Concrete construction has been an important part of architectural practice since the Roman Empire. Extremely malleable, fluid concrete is capable of being poured into almost any conceivable form. In theory, this makes it an ideal building material. In practice, however, creating complex forms out of concrete is extremely inefficient. Pouring on sight requires formwork that is painstakingly made by hand, and precast concrete is usually limited by orthogonal molds. Concrete has become restricted to a few simple forms that are easy and cheap to produce when, in many cases, a building would benefit from concrete casting that is optimized for its structural and economical needs. How do we make such optimization feasible? This is the question that the EU sponsored TailorCrete has attempted to answer. A research consortium lasting for four years, TailorCrete is exploring new technologies that could make non-standard concrete structures commonplace.
TailorCrete is led by the Danish Technological Institute, and involves 14 partners such as Czech Technical University, ETH Zurich, and Chalmers University of Technology. The project explores a variety of construction technologies, such as alternative formworks, and robotics. The goal, according to the TailorCrete website is to “replace the use of traditional formwork and thus enable greater flexibility in producing singular concrete structures with different geometric designs. Through the development and use of self-compacting concrete with robots, a link will be created between digital design and the fabrication of materials and components and ultimately to the on-site construction processes.”
Partner Superpool has already demonstrated the fruits of this research. Their Full Scale Demonstrator (FSD) is a sculptural form built from concrete plates that have been folded via robotics before fully setting. This optimized structure spans 23 meters in length and 6.5 meters in height while having a thickness that is, at maximum, only 25 centimeters.
The TailorCrete project concluded earlier this year—for more information on its findings and research developments, visit their website here. See more of the Full Scale Demonstrator in the gallery below!
Photographs by STAMER KONTOR.