The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimates that by 2050 the world’s population will have increased by over 2.1 billion people. Providing housing and infrastructure for them would essentially require building an amount equivalent to what currently exists. It is simply not possible to build in the future the way we do today if we want to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, slow the depletion of natural resources and minimise waste production. These challenges can only be addressed if engineers and architects actively include them at the source of their designs. Through full-scale, built research demonstrators by the Block Research Group at ETH Zurich, this essay presents strategies, based on advances in computational structural design and digital fabrication, to take on these challenges, offering opportunities for a necessary disruptive change. It furthermore calls for a rethinking of how we collaborate, teach engineering, and develop building codes to allow for greater flexibility and innovation.