The advent of robotics in the creative and construction industries has led to an amazing revolution, changing not just how things are designed and made, but also transforming knowledge cultures, politics and economics that surround them. As such, the ROB|ARCH 2018 conference – hosted by the NCCR Digital Fabrication and ETH Zurich – will continue this path, developing and revealing novel insights, applications and impacts of this transformation within the scientific, creative, and entrepreneurial domains, including, for example, architecture, structural design, civil and process engineering, art and design, and robotics. A particular focus lies upon cross-disciplinary approaches and applications, providing state-of-the-art knowledge, techniques and methods of robotics not just in individual areas of exploration, but also beyond. These ideals aspire to complement the transformation processes of emerging robotic research and applications, and to redefine cross-disciplinary work in an era of global digitalisation and knowledge transfer. Key topics and issues of ROB|ARCH 2018 include autonomous control systems, advanced construction, collaborative design tools, computerised materials and structures, adaptive sensing and actuation, on-site and cooperative robotics, machine-learning, human-machine interaction, large-scale robotic fabrication and networked workflows.
As self-driven cars are being introduced to our city streets and tech companies have expanded their influence far beyond the boundaries of our computer and smartphone displays, a new generation of architects are charged with imagining how to employ the technology of tomorrow in ways that will advance and improve the world’s built environments. With autonomous transportation, virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence promising unprecedented tools for revolutionizing human infrastructure in a future that no longer feels particularly distant, present-day data gathering and analysis capabilities have already transformed our ability to understand trends on an unforeseen scale.
Taking full advantage of modern data science capabilities and semi-automated robotic technology currently deployed in factory settings around the world, Masters candidate Stanislas Chaillou from the Harvard GSD imagines how today’s new tech could help realize the longtime architectural ambition of creating flexible buildings capable of adapting to variable uses.
Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) has unveiled Scribit, a “writing robot” which draws images and text on any wall surface, turning office, living, and bathroom walls into a blank canvas for artistic expression. Using in-built engines, Scribit can draw, cancel, and re-draw new content an infinite number of times, allowing users to print different images, messages, or feeds every day.
Scribit is always connected to the internet, allowing users to download, upload or source any online content. Operating in real time, Scribit immediately reproduces any data sent to it by the user, be it a restaurant posting the day’s menu, a financial firm posting stock market updates in its lobby, or an art enthusiast projecting their own content on the living room wall.
This issue of dearq seeks to shed light on a spectrum of spatial, material, and research practices intertwining architecture, design, and computation. We welcome contributions that address these from critical, de-colonial, and local perspectives, with a non-exclusive focus on Latin America and the rest of the “Global South”.
Recent debates on the role of computation in architectural practice and education tend to be framed within theoretical armatures that originate in the global centers of knowledge and economy. Likewise, dominant discourses on computation in architecture and design often normalize technologies
as autonomous forces that trigger inextricable historical ‘turns.’ It is thus tempting, but
The field of robotics is coming of age. Robotics and artificial intelligence represent the next cutting edge technology to transform the fields of architecture and design. The past decade's surge towards more computationally defined building systems and highly adaptable open-source design software has left the field ripe for the integration of robotics wither through large-scale building fabrication or through more intelligent/adaptive building systems. Through this surge, architecture has not only been greatly influenced by these emerging technologies, but has also begun influencing other disciplines in unexpected ways. The purpose of this book is to provide systems of classification, categorization and
According to The Economist, 47% of the work done by humans will have been replaced by robots by 2037, even those traditionally associated with university education. While the World Economic Forum estimates that between 2015 and 2020, 7.1 million jobs will be lost around the world, as "artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and other socio-economic factors replace the need for human employees."
It's not science fiction: the MIT Technology Review warns that the current debate over raising the minimum wage for fast food employees in the United States would accelerate their own automation. On the other hand, Silicon Valley personalities and millionaires like Elon Musk and Richard Branson warned that the impact of automation will force the creation of a universal basic income to compensate not only the massive unemployment that would generate these new technologies but also the hyper-concentration of the global wealth.
One advocate of this idea is the British economist Guy Standing who wrote at the Davos Forum that it "would be a sensible precaution against the possibility of mass displacement by robotization and artificial intelligence," but will automation affect architects? Will we really be replaced by robots?
The IAAC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) has developed a series of advanced materials and systems for air conditioning and passive ventilation, allowing homes to reduce interior temperatures up to 5 degrees lower while saving the electricity consumption caused by the traditional air-conditioning. The systems are made from long-lifespan materials, which lower the costs of maintenance in the long-term and can be used as low-cost alternative building technologies.
The projects highlighted are the Breathing Skin, Hydroceramics, Hydromembrane, Morphluid and Soft Robotics - all developed by students of the IAAC's Digital Matter Intelligent Constructions (conducted by Areti Markopoulou). The passive air-conditioning of spaces is investigated using a combination of new materials that mimic organic processes, adaptive structures and Robotics that help regulate temperature and create sustainable micro climates.
While large-scale 3D printing for architecture continues to be a busy area of research, France-based company XtreeE has been using 3D printed concrete in projects since 2015. Their latest creation is an organic truss-style support structure for a preschool playground in Aix-en-Provence.
This article was originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "Wolf Prix on Robotic Construction and the Safe Side of Adventurous Architecture."
In response to a conservative and sometimes fragmented building industry, some architects believe that improving and automating the construction process calls for a two-front war: first, using experimental materials and components, and second, assembling them in experimental ways. Extra-innovative examples include self-directed insect-like robots that huddle together to form the shape of a building and materials that snap into place in response to temperature or kinetic energy.
The automation battle has already been fought (and won) in other industries. With whirring gears and hissing pneumatics, rows and rows of Ford-ist mechanical robot arms make cars, aircraft, and submarines in a cascade of soldering sparks. So why shouldn’t robotic construction become commonplace for buildings, too?
Thanks to a new robot named Hadrian X, we made soon be able to construct an entire brick house in just 2 days. Developed by the appropriately named Australian firm Fastbrick Robotics, the giant truck-mounted robot has the ability to lay up to 1,000 bricks an hour. Its innovation comes via the machine’s 30-meter telescopic boom, which allows the base to remain in a single position throughout the brick-laying process.
A team of engineers at Autodesk have been pushing the limitations of conventional 3D printing -- not by redesigning the machines themselves, but by creating a network to harness their collective power. Autodesk's "Project Escher" is a new printing system that utilizes the power of several 3D printers at once to fabricate complex parts in unison, reports FastCoDesign. The new system can increase production speed by up to 90%.
The theme of Parallelism in Architecture, Environment and Computing Techniques (PACT) 2016 explores the relations between computational design in architecture, organizational and global, ever-changing and pervasive contexts. PACT 2016 aims to gather practitioners and researchers interested in investigating and improving the state of practice of computational design software in the architectural discourse, where practicing design computing experts can explain the challenges they face in their day-to-day practices, and collectively induce an impact on the future of the field.
Craftsmanship is one of those topics which it seems almost everyone has a strong opinion. But while many lament the fact that traditional craft practices have been in decline since the industrial revolution, today a new generation of architects and designers have set about redefining and updating the notion of craft to include the most modern design and fabrication techniques around. In this article, originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "5 Ways Architects and Postdigital Artisans Are Modernizing Craftsmanship," Jeff Link explores some of the traits that connect these pioneers to the craftsmen and women of a bygone era.
Craftsmanship in the digital age is hard to define. For some, craftsmanship evokes a purity of style, a preference for the handmade over the machine. For others, it recalls the Craftsman architecture of early-20th-century homes: overhung gabled rooflines, wide sheltered porches, detailed handiwork, and an ineffable Norman Rockwell sense of bygone Americana.
But regardless of one’s intuitive understanding of the term, the notion of craftmanship is evolving. Increasingly, the age-old knowledge of woodcarvers, masons, and other craftspeople is embedded in an intelligent design process using geometric computer models and machine fabrication to develop new crafts and architectural métiers—from gravity-defying furniture assemblies to complex workflows for robotic automatons. These innovations have helped place architects alongside craftsmen at the center of a revival in “maker” culture, which, for example, is in vivid display in handmade marketplaces such as Folksy and Etsy.
So what exactly is digital craft? And what does it look like in the work of top designers? Here, innovative architects identify five things postdigital artisans are doing to transform craftsmanship.
Stuttgart experimental architect Achim Menges has been commissioned to kickstart the V&A's first ever Engineering Season with a site specific, nature-inspired installation fabricated by robots. Complemented by Ove Arup's first major retrospective, Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design, the Elytra Filament Pavilion will be Menges' first public commission in the UK. He will work with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer to complete the project.
"Elytra Filament Pavilion will explore the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making," says the V&A. "Inspired by a lightweight construction principle found in nature, the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the Pavilion will be an undulating canopy of tightly-woven carbon fibre cells created using a novel robotic production process."
A new construction worker has been lending high-efficiency help to job sites, laying bricks at almost three times the speed of a human worker. SAM (short for Semi-Automated Mason) is a robotic bricklayer that handles the repetitive tasks of basic brick laying, MIT Technology Review reports. While SAM handles picking up bricks, applying mortar and placing them at designated locations, its human partner handles worksite setup, laying bricks in specific areas (e.g. corners) and improving the aesthetic quality of the masonry.
Architecture can be built with compressive elements and with tensile elements, but few materials have the ability to be stretched and also retain compressive strength. In a new project from Architectural Association DRL students Soulaf Aburas, Maria Velasquez, Giannis Nikas, and Mattia Santi, one of those materials, Polycaprolactone, a biodegradable polyester, is used to create framework from temporary pavilions and installations. Constructed using programmable robotic arms, the resulting product is a joint-less, self-supporting mono-material that shares a visual similarity to the structure of bones - giving the project its name, Osteobotics.
In manufacturing, the dramatic recent expansion in the capabilities of 3D printing has threatened to revolutionize the way that things are made. In architecture though, while 3D printing has been received with enthusiasm its translation to the increased scale of buildings has been challenging. Most solutions to this problem have focused on increasingly large printers and the incorporation of existing principles of prefabrication - however there is another way. In this article, originally published on Autodesk’s Redshift publication as "4 Ways a Robot or Drone 3D Printer Will Change Architecture and Construction," Zach Mortice looks at four examples of cutting-edge research into 3D printing that utilize robots or drones to navigate architecture's challenging scale.
Buildings simply aren’t made like anything else—that goes for sunglasses, furniture, appliances, and fighter jets. No other production process brings massive amounts of material to one place, constructs one item, and then hauls away the garbage. The inefficiencies are monumental.
Modular construction has promised a great deal of potential to reduce waste. But what if one answer is to do more intricate construction on-site, not less? 3D printers attached to robots and drones are demonstrating that they might have the versatility to finally bring the unruly building process to heel.
The Solar Bytes pavilion, designed by assistant professor at Kent State University Brian Peters, is a temporary structure which highlights the potential of new techniques available to architecture: robotic arms, 3D printing, smart technologies such as lighting sensors, and solar energy.
Leveraging the strength and range of motion of a robotic arm, the pavilion was printed in three dimensions with an experimental extruder, resulting in a structure composed of 94 unique modules that capture energy during the day, and shine at night. After their initial function, the plastic modules making up the pavilion will be completely crushed and reused in a new structure.