Two Brooklyn-based construction entrepreneurs began their business with a simple observation: steel rebar, used in concrete construction throughout the world, isn't always easy to work with. Ian Cohen and Daniel Blank noticed this when they were watching wind turbines being erected. “Watching the process of people manually moving these huge, heavy objects looked dangerous and difficult,” Cohen explained. Often made from scrap metal, rebar is a “really sharp, dirty material for humans to interact with.” They pivoted their URBAN-X accelerated startup, Toggle, which they founded two-and-a-half years ago with a focus on renewable energy, to the even more fundamental work of making the production of reinforced concrete faster and safer through automation. Rebar steel is “traditionally manually picked up and erected into cages and shaped to hold reinforced concrete structures in place,” explained Cohen. These cages may be as long as 50 feet. That’s hard work for humans but is exactly the kind of job robots are suited for: taking very heavy things and moving them precisely. Using customized industrial robots, Toggle made modifications that allow the automated arms to “achieve bespoke movements.” The design-to-build process is also streamlined, with custom software that takes a design file, evaluates types of cages needed, then derives a build sequence, and goes straight into digital fabrication. Currently, Toggle, which is in the early stages of its technology, is using a “cooperative process”—a human and robot working side by side. The robot does the dangerous work and heavy lifting, picking up and manipulating the bars, while the human does just the final wire tying. Toggle is in the process of automating this step as well, aiming to increase productivity over all-human rebar processing by as much as five times while halving the cost. The two also plan on adding a linear track that would allow the robot to produce larger meshes, though currently, they are operating at a fairly substantial maximum of 20 feet. No mere experiment, the robot is currently being put to work, fabricating rebar for projects in New York City and the surrounding area. Part of the plan is to develop a system that works something like vertical farming, Cohen explained, where production happens close to where there is need, minimizing the logistical demands and long-distance transportation and “allowing civil infrastructure to be developed and constructed in the societies that need them most.” New York, of course, is a perfect testing ground with its constant construction. Currently, global labor shortages, including in the U.S., make infrastructure construction expensive according to Cohen. Toggle’s goal is to “reduce cost and accelerate construction projects around the world, all while maximizing safety.” The intent, Cohen says, is not about getting rid of human labor but about “taking work away from humans that is not suited for them and putting them in jobs that are better for humans.”
Posts tagged with "Rebar":
Today, pocket parklets popped up across the country for Rebar Group's 2017 PARK(ing) Day – now a beloved tradition among public space enthusiasts and designers. According to the PARK(ing) Day Manual, the celebration treats metered parking spots as a "short-term lease for a plot of precious urban real estate." In place of parked cars, a range of creative interventions abound. This year, the American Society of Landscape Architects asked landscape architects all over the country to invest their quarters on temporary, miniature green spaces. Here are some of our favorites from the #ASLAPD17 hashtag on social media. Site Design Group in Chicago built a human-powered hamster wheel, albeit with one glaring design flaw: the absence of an attached grass smoothie machine. In Baltimore, Hord Coplan Macht constructed a peaceful little greenspace with terraced timber seating. D.C.'s Landscape Architecture Bureau (LAB) built a small field of artificial tulips from plastic taken from the Anacostia Watershed. L.A.'s AHBE LAB privileged the deep thatch in a rewilding of a parking space recalling Agnes Denes' 1982 Wheatfield in Battery Park Landfill. https://twitter.com/ahbeland/status/908757935999803392 From Instagram, Seattle's Weisman Design Group created seesaws and tetherballs amid tall grasses that we really wish were permanent. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEdSumFbSg/?taken-by=weismandesigngroup The ASLA's branch at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona constructed a lovely raised topographic seating area. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEw2TXlNUZ/?taken-by=asu_asla Finally, in Austin, Texas, Daniel Woodroofe Group put up a hedge public hammocks. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEqDLjnJ6q/?taken-by=studiodwg Other parklets are permanent. As The New York Times reported in late August, 18 curbside pop-up spaces have appeared across New York City alone (double last year's count), and they're here to stay. Most of these spaces have been created through a partnership between the city's Transportation Department and local groups, including the Parsons School of Design, which created a flexible space called Street Seats with planters constructed of bamboo and movable seating. PARK(ing) Day has catalyzed similar programs nationwide. Regardless of its permanence, parklets remain a charming, temporary form of urban acupuncture expanding public and green space.
Two global urbanistic powerhouses, San Francisco–based Rebar and Copenhagen-based Gehl Architects, have joined forces to create Gehl Studio. The practices will keep their offices in their respective cities and start a new one in New York. Gehl didn't purchase Rebar, but hired most of Rebar’s staff, including two of the three founding partners, according to a report in Landscape Architecture Magazine. Gehl, founded in 2000 by Jan Gehl, has focused on large-scale planning and targeted interventions in cities from Sao Paolo to Melbourne, and has developed plans to rethink New York's public streets (creating several open pedestrian plazas) as well as Market Street in San Francisco, among many others. Rebar, begun in 2004, was best known for heading up Park(ing) Day, in which cities around the world replace parking spaces with parks. But they're approach to "tactical urbanism" has extended to temporary installations at the San Francisco Jewish Museum (Nomadic Grove), Golden Gate Park (Panhandle Bandshell, a stage made completely out of recycled materials) and the streets of San Francisco (Parkcyle, a bicycle-powered mobile park). Rebar appears poised to finally make more permanent changes on the urban landscape while Gehl has taken on young, creative new employees, and a fresh perspective, not to mention important connections in the U.S.
Last July, AN covered the story of SOAK, a portable pop-up spa designed by engineering group ARUP and art and design studio Rebar. Inspired by a healthy hedonist ideology, this urban rain-water and solar-powered ecological bathhouse seeks to reclaim everyday wellness and develop a model that works without heavy consumption of resources. The project has been under development for years now, but has now finally launched a Kickstarter campaign. It will only be funded if at least $240,000 is pledged by January 1, 2014. (Rendering: Courtesy REBAR)
That old saw about how you can't take public space with you is bound for the trash heap. Landscape architect John Bela, co-founder of San Francisco–based Rebar, and artist Tim Wolfer of N55 have developed Parkcycle Swarm, a green space initiative that puts people and green space together—on wheels. The basic Parkcycle module is a mobile green space made of an aluminum frame, plywood, standard bicycle parts, and astroturf. Each one measures 2.6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 7.4 feet long. Parkcycles offer instant open space to neighborhoods. All users have to do is park the Parkcycle and sprawl out on the turf to enjoy a bottle of beaujolais or play some hackie sack. Four of the small mobile parks are currently making the rounds at the Participate public arts festival in Baku, Azerbaijan. Rebar initially experimented with the Parkcycle concept for one of its famous Park(ing) Days in San Francisco. The company's website explains the concept as a “human-powered open space distribution system designed for agile movement within the existing auto-centric urban infrastructure.” Copenhagen-based public art group N55 sees Parkcycle as an alternative to top down urban development with each Parkcycle forming an individual component within a larger system. As more and more people construct their own Parkcycles, they can come together to form swarms, taking over their local urban environments. Each bicycle-park can be modified and designed to follow local bicycle standards. Additionally, N55 proposes that the Parkcycles could be equipped with small pavilions, trees, solar panels, and even portable grills and mobile kitchens. The original Parkcycle was built in collaboration with California-based kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin and debuted in 2007. Photos courtesy Tim Wolfer / N55 and Yarat.
Engineering group ARUP and art and design studio Rebar have announced a design for a rainwater-harvesting, solar-powered, portable pop-up spa that receives every watt of energy it requires from the sun. The energy comes from heat exchangers and efficient equipment to heat and power the “healthy hedonist” experience called SOAK. The shipping container-spa conserves resources with thoughtful engineering and provides the core experience of the conventional bathhouse in a microcosm. The project, a prime example of tactical urbanism, joins personal wellness with social vitality while combining the most intelligent form of energy and alternative resources. Half the water necessary to fill the tubs is sourced from rainwater, and all the energy requirements for tub and sauna heat are supplied by a solar water heater and photovoltaic cells, permitting SOAK to restore surplus power to the electrical grid. Greywater from tubs, showers, and sinks is routed through water garden cells and infiltrated completely onsite. SOAK, whose founder and creative innovator Nell Waters hired ARUP and Rebar to finalize the design intended to activate urban sites and serve as a short-term establishment for redevelopment sites, is entering an important fundraising and site-raising stage. SOAK is searching for a developing parcel with an 18-36 month vacancy window in the Bay Area. While parcels await the go-ahead for development approvals and funding, the spa temporarily gives the site a purpose by helping the site “stay on the map” and reinforcing visitor habits. Once the site has been developed, SOAK will move to a new transient location.