For several years, the construction sector has been facing a labour shortage, generating a growing interest in automation. The health crisis has only exacerbated the trend, prompting automation companies to turn their focus from car manufacturing to the construction industry, for which automation is expected to grow up to 30% within the next few years. The following explores present capabilities and future possibilities of automation within the construction process, its integration within the mainstream practice and the impact on design.
Robotics: The Latest Architecture and News
A recent collaboration between the team of Mario Cucinella Architects (MC A) and WASP, specialists in 3D Printing in Italy, has resulted in the first 3D-printed construction of a fully natural, recyclable, and carbon-neutral material: raw earth. The circular housing prototype is called TECLA and it was built in Massa Lombarda (Ravenna, Italy) using multiple 3D printers synchronized to work at the same time.
The Advanced Master “Design by Data” in Computation Design & Robotics for Architecture and Construction was launched in 2016 and is one of the latest programs in innovative professional education at l'École des Ponts ParisTech. The program was designed to meet the increasing need of the professional sectors of architecture and engineering for combining architectural awareness and skills in creative engineering. Design by Data trains professionals to master advanced design tools (coding, generative design, machine learning) as well as digital manufacturing and design processes (robotics, 3D printing, and mechatronics) applied to architectural and construction projects.
Denmark-based 3XN Architects has unveiled their design for a new Robot Developers Hub in Odense, Denmark. Designed as the new home of Universal Robots (UR) and Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR), the 20,000 square-meter hub will offer specialised environments for robot research and development.
There's no question that 3D printing is here to stay. However, it is still a developing technology that raises certain questions: is it really effective for massive and large-scale construction? How sustainable is it? Will it go from being an option to becoming the norm in the construction industry? To help clarify the broader picture of 3D printing's place in architecture and construction, we spoke with Alain Guillen, Managing Director and Co-founder of XtreeE, a platform that allows architects to bring their designs to reality through advanced large-scale 3D printing, generating quick and precise shapes without material waste. See below how he and his team see the future of robotics in architecture and why architects should prepare to embrace this new technology, heading for a more efficient but equally creative future.
In November of 2020, Foster + Partners announced a collaboration with the robotics design company Boston Dynamics. Together, the two have been testing Boston Dynamics’ robot dog, Spot, to help capture and monitor progress on construction sites. The robot boasts the dexterity to climb stairs, avoid obstacles, and traverse rough terrain, allowing it to monitor building sites and collect data quickly and easily. In this way, designers and contractors can remedy errors rapidly and at minimal cost, ensuring that projects progress according to their set timeframes and budgets. With manual data collection, errors might be noticed at a much slower rate and communication between contractors may suffer as well. Thus, Spot optimizes construction monitoring and on-site collaboration.
Robotic automation has been widely adopted by the manufacturing industry for decades. Most automotive vehicles, consumer electrical appliances, and even domestic robots were made and assembled by “armies” of robots with minimal human supervision. Robotic automation brings higher production efficiency, a safer working environment, lower costs and superior quality. After years of development and deployment, the process now requires minimal human involvement.
In 2013, Michael Osborne and Carl Benedikt Frey ranked 702 occupations according to their probability of computerisation in the near future, from least probable (“recreational therapist”) to most probable (“telemarketers”). "Architectural and Engineering Managers” was ranked seventy-third, and “architects” eighty-second, while “architectural and civil drafters” ranked three-hundred and fifth. Clearly, technological advancements in fields such as machine learning and robotics are rapidly confronting us with issues of changing professional demand and qualifications. In this essay, Maurizio Ferraris turns the table on us: what if what we should be concerned with is not maintaining the human element in labor as production, but rather recognising human labor as consumption? Expanding on the arguments of his 2012 book, “Lasciar tracce: documentalità e architettura,” the author sees in automation an extraordinary opportunity in defining a renewed centrality of the human element, as the production of value associated with digital exchange is read through the three concepts of invention, mobilization and consumption.
On behalf of IAAC, I’m glad to announce to you that the OTF:3D Printing Architecture program has extended the application deadline until April 19th for 2 FULL scholarships for next academic year. This is a great opportunity to learn about novel technologies for sustainable design and construction, thanks to additive manufacturing.
With the scholarship program we want to strengthen relations with local Universities or Research Centers in interesting contexts such as Moçambic, Zimbabue, Angola, Etiopia, Tanzania, Somalia, Angola, Camerun, Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya and many more. It's a long term project, that wants to establish long and strong relations
Design:ED Podcast is an inside look into the field of architecture told from the perspective of individuals that are leading the industry. This motivational series grants unique insight into the making of a successful design career, from humble beginnings to worldwide recognition. Every week, featured guests share their personal highs and lows on their journey to success, that is sure to inspire audiences at all levels of the industry. Listening to their stories will provide a rare blueprint for anyone seeking to advance their career, and elevate their work to the next level.
Educating Designers on Computational Design and Robotics Can Make Architecture and Construction More Sustainable
The Advanced Master “Design by Data” program in Computation Design & Robotics for Architecture and Construction was launched in 2016 and is one of the latest programs in innovative professional education at Ecole des Ponts ParisTech. The program was designed to meet the increasing need for the professional sectors of architecture and engineering to combine architectural skills with creative engineering. Design by Data trains professionals to master advanced design tools (coding, algorithmic approach, artificial intelligence) as well as digital manufacturing and design processes (robotics, 3D printing, electronics and mechatronics) and apply them to architectural and construction projects.
Bar producer Makr Shakr has unveiled new rooftop robotic bars in Milan and London. Founded by MIT professor Carlo Ratti, the company's new projects are made to engage with the city and explore the potential of technology. In Milan, the project is the city's first robotic bar, while the London bar is on display at the Barbican as part of its AI: More than Human exhibition. Makr Shakr's bars aim to combine barman roots with food tech around the future of human-machine collaboration.
Turkish practice Melike Altınışık Architects (MAA) has won an international competition for the design of a Robot Science Museum in Seoul, South Korea. Hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the competition called for a “world first” museum to support public education in robotics, and increase public interest in robots.
The principles of robotics, science, technology, and innovation have shaped all aspects of the scheme’s design, from form and structure to material and operation. The main character of the museum is to “create its own universe for robots and their visitors,” manifesting as a non-directional, fluid, spherical structure.
It is, once again, the time of year where we look towards the future to define the goals and approaches that we will take for our careers throughout the upcoming year. To help the millions of architects who visit ArchDaily every day from all over the world, we compiled a list of the most popular ideas of 2018, which will continue to be developed and consolidated throughout 2019.
Over 130 million users discovered new references, materials, and tools in 2018 alone, infusing their practice of architecture with the means to improve the quality of life for our cities and built spaces. As users demonstrated certain affinities and/or demonstrated greater interest in particular topics, these emerged as trends.
American robotics company Sarcos has revealed a new full-body exoskeleton for construction workers that aims to be commercially available in 2020. While the US manufacturer specializes in military and public safety devices, the new robotic exoskeleton allows workers to carry up to 200 pounds for extended periods of time. Called the Guardian XO, the design has been in development for nearly two decades and is made to help reduce strain on construction workers.
The Aarhus School of Architecture working with Asbjørn Søndergaard of Odico Formwork Robotics, has unveiled a high-performance structure deployed using a revolutionary robotic manufacturing method. “Experiment R” seeks to disrupt current concrete manufacturing by cutting the cost of concrete formwork production by 50%.
The abrasive wire-cutting method can accelerate the production time of conventional formwork by a factor of 126, while reducing the amount of concrete used by up to 70%. Despite these impressive stats, the technology has been developed to preserve and enhance design freedom.
The MIT-based Mediated Matter Group have created Fiberbots, an autonomous digital fabrication platform designed to quickly build architecture during disaster. By utilizing cooperative robotic manufacturing, Fiberbots can create highly sophisticated material structures. The small robots work as a group to wind fiberglass filament and create high-strength tubular structures. MIT researchers envision the bots building in extreme environments and natural disaster zones.