AI News, Architects Using Robots to Build Beautiful Structures

Architects Using Robots to Build Beautiful Structures

Since 2006 the duo has explored various manufacturing techniques, including both subtractive and additive fabrication, as well as a wide range of materials, to create astonishing structures entirely built by robots.

The use of robots, combined with digital design tools, means a new aesthetic becomes possible, with novel shapes and patterns that would be nearly impossible to achieve without the automated machines: industrial manipulators that are extremely precise and good at repetition.

Using robots, the two ETHarchitects, who run the Gramazio Kohler design studio, have fabricated intricate building parts out of wood, concrete, bricks, and foam, and have used these parts to build complex, beautiful installations in Zurich, London, Barcelona, New York, and other locations.

Though their creations thus far are limited in size, the architects are currently exploring the idea of applying robotic fabrication to the design and construction of high-rise buildings.

Here's how they describe a 2009 project to build a temporary spatial structure [photo, right] for a major public event in Wettswil am Albis, Switzerland: The wooden structure consists of 16 contorted elements made from 372 slats.

Gramazio Kohler Research wants to build the future using robots

The researchers—led by professors Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler of ETH Zurich—are moved, according to the lab’s mission statement, to “examine the changes in architectural production requirements that result from introducing digital manufacturing techniques.” This research-and-development effort focuses on anticipating and ultimately generating the construction processes of our robot-filled future through interdisciplinary collaboration.

GKR’s experiments are part of an effort by the so-called ETH Domain—a research network of universities including ETH Zurich and other independent research institutions based in Switzerland—to prototype and develop new technologies using a research-centered approach.

The research lab’s recent efforts have been put toward developing the so-called DFAB house, a project undertaken by eight ETH Zurich research professors that aims to construct the first-ever digitally planned, designed, and constructed structure.

Jammed Architectural Structures Rock Print is a robotically constructed architectural installation built from “low-grade granular material,” a focus of the lab’s research into jammed architectural structures erected in nonstandard shapes.

The initiative focuses on the robotic aggregation of small rocks that are “quite literally crammed together in such a way that the mass holds its form and shape like a solid,” according to the project website.

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