Meet the Innovators Under 35

Mariana Popescu, ETH Zurich

2019 Innovator Under 35: She developed a construction process that turns knitted textiles into concrete buildings—saving money, carbon, and time

Mariana Popescu, Postdoctoral Researcher, Block Research Group, ETH Zurich

Mariana Popescu is an architect with a strong interest in innovative ways of approaching the fabrication process and use of materials. She has received Bachelors and Masters degrees in architecture from Delft University of Technology, specializing in non-standard and interactive architecture. She has been part of multidisciplinary teams designing and building a solar car and a fully self-sustaining house, and she has worked as a parametric design specialist in the Netherlands. As of 2015, Mariana is a PhD researcher at the Block Research Group and part of the NCCR Digital Fabrication. Her research focuses on the development of KnitCrete, a novel, material-saving, labor-reducing, cost-effective formwork system for casting of doubly curved geometries in concrete. The system uses a custom, 3d-knitted, technical textile as a lightweight, stay-in-place shuttering, coated with a special cement paste to create a rigid mould. Mariana Popescu successfully defended her PhD dissertation on "KnitCrete: Stay-in-place knitted fabric formwork for complex concrete structures" on June 4, 2019. Additionally, her thesis committee, consisting of Professor Dr. Chokri Cherif of TU Dresden, Professor Dr. Jan Knippers of University of Stuttgart, and Professor Block, nominated her for an ETH Medal for outstanding thesis.


Innovators Under 35
individuals whose superb technical work promises to shape the coming decades through the development of new technology or the creative application of existing technologies to solve problems.

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