Posts tagged with "robots":

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3D printed pavilion in Ohio recreates the sun’s path at night

A luminous, arched pavilion in Ohio aims to highlight the potential of 3D fabrication techniques, and to so it's mounting a Promethean stunt. The so-called Solar Bytes Pavilion grabs sunlight during the day and radiates light when it gets dark, recreating the day's solar conditions minute-by-minute throughout the night. Brian Peters helped found DesignLabWorkshop in 2008, eventually settling in Kent, Ohio. Their latest project is the Solar Bytes Pavilion, a continuum of 94 unique modules (“bytes”) 3D printed in ceramic bricks covered with white, translucent plastic. Peters and his team then put solar-powered LEDs in each of the bytes, snapping them together in a self-supporting, arched pavilion just big enough for a few people to huddle inside. 3DPrint.com got some detail on the fabrication process:
...he used a 6-axis robot arm located at the Robotic Fabrication Lab at Kent State. A hand welding extruder, called the Mini CS, was attached to the robot arm to serve as the 3D printhead, and it extrudes plastic material in a sort of FDM-style process. The technology, provided by Hapco Inc. and called BAK/DOHLE, is employed by universities, government agencies, and concerns like the University of Michigan, Oak Ridge Laboratory, the US Department of Energy, and the University of Tennessee.
The pavilion debuted at Cleveland's Ingenuity Fest.
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Product> Climate, Controlled: Top Heating & Cooling Products

These innovative, resource-conscious building products keep structures—and their occupants—comfortable while maximizing energy efficiency. ProSol TF+ Schüco This high-efficiency, thin-film photovoltaic module produces up to 30 percent more electrical output than conventional thin-film products, due to its tandem cell structure. High-Mass Radiant Heating/Cooling System Uponor In this hydronic radiant system, warm or cool water flows through cross-linked polyethylene tubing; flexible, it needs fewer connections and is approved for continuous hot-water recirculation. IceBank Thermal Energy Storage CALMAC Ice-cooled air produced with this thermal energy system shifts a building's cooling needs to off-peak hours. Comfy Building Robotics Web- and mobile-based software lets office workers warm or cool their specific locations, while fine-tuning the building's energy use and optimizing HVAC efficiency. VRF Zoning Systems Mitsubishi Electric Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning systems operate efficiently at partial-load conditions, helping to optimize energy savings and lower costs. Quantum Vue Lutron This mobile-friendly software lets facility managers monitor, analyze, and program all energy usage in a building, and ties all lighting and shade controls together.
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Researchers Train Robots to 3D Print Architecture

The future of architecture is upon us, and thanks to a team of researchers led by Sasa Jokic and Petr Novikov, construction workers may soon be made obsolete. A team from the Institute for Advanced Architecture Catalonia (IAAC) is currently tackling the challenge of making “mini-builders”: drones that are capable of applying 3-D printing at a large, architectural scale. While the minibuilder robots are original inventions, the idea of using robots to 3-D print architecture is not a new one, and many, including a team from Gensler Los Angeles, are exploring the usefulness of the technology. The idea dates back to 2008 when Caterpillar began funding Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California. These mini-builders are unique because of their relatively tiny size, which makes them easier to mass produce and much more convenient to haul places. Currently there are three robots that have been unveiled to the public by the IAAC team: the foundation robot, the grip robot, and the vacuum robot. The foundation robot is equipped with tracks and a sensor to keep it in position and lays down the base of the structure for the other two robots to work on. Next, the grip robot actually attaches itself to the structure via rollers and is responsible for raising the printed structure vertically. Finally the vacuum robot utilizes suction cups to cling onto the surface of the structure and reinforces the walls. The robots are currently working with concrete as a building material.
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Two-Sided Railway Station by Team CS

Rotterdam Centraal Station's relationship to the existing urban fabric called for different treatments of its north and south facades.

To call the commission for a new central railway station in Rotterdam complicated would be an understatement. The project had multiple clients, including the city council and the railway company ProRail. The program was complex, encompassing the north and south station halls, train platforms, concourse, commercial space, offices, outdoor public space, and more. Finally, there was the station’s relationship to Rotterdam itself: while city leaders envisioned the south entrance as a monumental gateway to the city, the proximity of an historic neighborhood to the north necessitated a more temperate approach. Team CS, a collaboration among Benthem Crouwel Architekten, MVSA Meyer en Van Schooten Architecten, and West 8, achieved a balancing act with a multipart facade conceived over the project’s decade-long gestation. On the south, Rotterdam Centraal Station trumpets its presence with a swooping triangular stainless steel and glass entryway, while to the north a delicate glass-house exterior defers to the surrounding urban fabric. Team CS, which formed in response to the 2003 competition to design the station, began with a practical question: how should they cover the railroad tracks? Rotterdam Centraal Station serves Dutch Railways, the European High Speed Train network, and RandstadRail, the regional light rail system. Team CS wanted to enclose all of the tracks within a single structure, but they came up against two problems. First, the client team had budgeted for multiple freestanding shelters rather than a full roof. Second, this part of the project was designated a design-construct tender in which the winning contractor would have a high degree of control over the final design. To work around both issues, Team CS turned to an unusual source: agricultural buildings. “We started to come up with a project built from catalog materials, so efficient and so simple that any contractor would maybe think, ‘I’m going to build what they draw because then I can do a competition on being cheap, and then I don’t need to [reinvent] the wheel,’” explained West 8’s Geuze. For the spans, they chose prelaminated wood beams meant for barns and similar structures from GLC. They designed the five-acre roof as an oversized Venlo greenhouse. It comprises 30,000 laminated glass panels manufactured by Scheuten. Integrated solar cells, also provided by Scheuten, produce about one-third of the energy required to run Rotterdam Centraal Station’s escalators.
  • Facade Manufacturer Scheuten, ME Construct
  • Architects Team CS (Benthem Crouwel Architekten, MVSA Meyer en Van Schooten Architecten, West 8)
  • Facade Installer Mobilis TBI, Iemants Staalconstructies
  • Location Rotterdam
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System Greenhouse-type glass roof on prelaminated wood beams, robotically-welded stainless steel surround, glass curtain wall
  • Products GLC prelaminated wood beams, Scheuten laminated glass, Isolide Superplus glass, Multisafe glass, Verwol wood ceiling
The north facade of the station continues the glass house theme. “We [took] the roof and we pull[ed] it over to the facade and made the entire elevation out of that,” explained Geuze. “What is on the roof becomes vertically the same. In plan you see a zigzag sort of meandering facade.” By day, the glass reflects the nineteenth-century brick architecture characteristic of the Provenierswijk neighborhood in which the station is located. At night, the relatively modest entrance seems almost to fade into the sky, except for a slice of white LED lettering over the passenger portal. Rotterdam Centraal Station’s south facade, by contrast, is self consciously extroverted. The entryway, which spans 300 feet over the subway station, was given a “very sculptural identity,” said Geuze, with a triangular mouth framed by stainless steel panels. ME Construct welded the 30-foot-long panels one to another to create a non-permeable surface. Within the steel surround are horizontal glass panels (Scheuten) through which the vertical interior structural beams are visible. “This plays beautifully with the station because the roof makes a triangle. The horizontal and vertical lines are a beautiful composition within,” said Geuze. Two reminders of the 1957 central station, demolished to make way for the new iteration, make an appearance on the south facade. The first is the old station clock. The second is the historic sign, restored in LED. “They are in a beautiful font, blue neon letters,” said Geuze. “We put them very low on the facade, the letters. The font became a part of the identity.” While its preponderance of glass and stainless steel marks it as a contemporary creation, Rotterdam Centraal Station was inspired by historic precedents, like Los Angeles’ Union Station and the European railway stations of the 1800s. Geuze spoke of the interior’s warm material palette, including a rough wood ceiling by Verwol that bleeds onto the building’s south facade. “We thought we could learn a lot [from history] instead of making what is totally the [norm] today with granite from China,” he said. “We have to make a station which is part of this tradition of cathedrals, where the use and aging is relevant and interesting.”
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An Impossible Stair by NEXT Architects

A folly in a Rotterdam suburb draws on residents' complex relationship with the city.

The residents of Carnisselande, a garden suburb in Barendrecht, the Netherlands, have a curious relationship with Rotterdam. Many of them work in the city, or are otherwise mentally and emotionally connected to it, yet they go home at night to a place that is physically and visually separate. When NEXT architects was tapped to build a folly on a hill in the new town, they seized on this apparent contradiction. “This suburb is completely hidden behind sound barriers, highways, totally disconnected from Rotterdam,” said NEXT director Marijn Schenk. “We discovered when you’re on top of the hill and jump, you can see Rotterdam. We said, ‘Can we make the jump into an art piece?’” NEXT designed The Elastic Perspective, a staircase based on the Möbius strip. “The idea of the impossible stair [is] you’re not able to continue your trip. At first it seems to be a continuous route, but once you’re up there, the path is flipping over,” explained Schenk. “That’s a reference to the feeling of the people living there.” To catch a glimpse of Rotterdam, users must turn their backs on Carnisselande. Yet while the view is in one sense the destination, the staircase ends where it started, in the reality of the garden suburb. NEXT began by experimenting with strips of paper and thin sheets of steel to form the staircase’s basic shape. The architects then turned to AutoCad, where they finalized the design before 3D printing a 1:200 scale model. NEXT worked with engineers at ABT throughout the process. They relied heavily on 3D design software, Schenk said, “because all the steel was sort of double-curved.”
  • Fabricator Mannen van Staal
  • Designers NEXT architects
  • Location Carnisselande, Barendrecht, Netherlands
  • Date of Completion June 2013
  • Material Cor-ten steel
  • Process modeling, AutoCad, CNC milling, bending, hand welding, cutting, robot welding
Mannen van Staal fabricated the staircase from seven steel panels custom-cut with a CNC machine, said project architect Joost Lemmens. They bent the plates, largely by hand, and assembled the entire structure in their factory, temporarily welding the pieces together. They then disassembled the structure for transport to the site, where the components were re-welded by hand and using a vacuum-cleaner-sized robot. Cor-ten was a practical choice on the one hand because the rust obscures the stitches used to reconnect the seven panels. In addition, said Schenk, “It’s weatherproof, and sustainable in the sense that we’re not using a toxic coating.” The choice of Cor-ten also holds aesthetic and cultural meaning. The orange of the staircase contrasts with the green of the hill. Plus, “it’s a material quite often used in artworks, so of course it refers to the work of Richard Serra [and others],” said Schenk. “I think in short what it’s about is the idea of making a jump, make people be able to make a jump to see the skyline of the city,” he concluded. “We’re using the Möbius strip to express the ambiguity of the people living there: feeling connected to Rotterdam but being somewhere else.”
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Brooklyn’s Willoughby Square Park by Hargreaves Set To Begin Construction

Nearly 10 years after shining as the “crown jewel” in the Downtown Brooklyn Redevelopment Plan, Willoughby Square Park has a clear path to construction. The one-acre park, designed by Hargreaves Associates, will be a passive space offering a moment of calm just half a block from the bustling Fulton Street Mall, but there will be plenty of action beneath the surface, where a robotically controlled parking garage will arrange 700 cars in a very compact space. The fully-automated, underground parking garage replete with plasma screens, cameras, and lasers will be located under the park and will help defray some of the costs of the its development. Automotion Parking Systems' space-saving technology also means that the garage can fit more cars than a traditional garage, cutting down on the cost of excavation. As a result, the Willoughby Operating Company will be able to cover the construction of the park and the garage with $6 million it has raised from city funding, the Economic Development Corporation, and private donors. The company has also promised to cover any additional expenses. That comes as good news, as the costs of relocating tenants, acquiring land, and funding cuts have hampered the park’s progress over the years. A ceremonial groundbreaking is planned next week on August 1 and the park is scheduled to open in 2016.

Manufacturing in the Future Happens on the Construction Site

In our recent story about architectural manufacturing in Southern California we alluded to LA-based curtain wall specialists Enclos' dream of manufacturing on-site through semi trailers that contain mini-factories inside. The assembly line trailers, known as "Cassette Wall Assembly Mobile Facilities," would pull into the site and open up via hinges, rollers or adjustable panels. They could solve the problem of shipping glass curtain wall pieces long distances by putting all production onsite. "Auto-assemble robotic technology," along with conveyer belts, suction cups (to move the glass), silicone pumps (for glazing), and of course human elbow grease could produce units quickly, accurately and, in many cases, in custom fashion. Here's a video of that process. Welcome to the future, people.
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Researchers Develop Robot-Powered Flight Assembled Architecture

Finally, one of our classic futurist expectations (something you might see in Futurama) is about to be fulfilled: architecture assembled by a swarm of flying robots. With robots apparently planning a takeover of the construction industry, how long until the iconic yet dangerous "Lunch atop a Skyscraper" (from the 1930s) is a thing of the past? Beginning tomorrow through February 19, the FRAC (Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain) Centre in Orléans, France presents its flying robots in action with the installation Flight Assembled Architecture to be built by semi-autonomous flying machines called quadcopters. Programmed by Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler and Italian robotics expert Raffaello d’Andrea, these flying agents will interact, lift, transport, and assemble small modules to erect a flowing structure in an artful ballet—in this case, a tower model standing 20ft tall and 11ft in diameter using 1,500 prefabricated polystyrene foam bricks. The idea of many 3d mobile agents swarming and collectively applying their individual speed, flexibility, and precision is reminiscent of the elegantly choreographed construction of a beehive. The experiment, a marriage of architecture and robotics, easily opens up innovative possibilities of both thinking and materializing digital design and fabrication for a new generation of architects. In case you're worried about the danger of a mid-air collision, the robots are equipped with motion capture sensors that will monitor their movements at a rate of 370 frames per second. If you're still a skeptic and find their agility dubious, check out these videos demonstrating how coordinated and groovy these robots really are: An aerial robotic ballet: And a ping pong match between flying robots:
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Out of Memory: Patrick Tighe Architecture with Machineous

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A site-specific installation at the SCI-Arc Gallery transforms a musical composition by Ken Ueno into a digitally realized built environment.

A robot, a composer, and an architect walk into a gallery. It could be the start of a corny joke, but instead it’s the captivating formula for Patrick Tighe’s new exhibition at the SCI-Arc Gallery. The composer is Ken Ueno, recipient of the Rome and Berlin Prizes, and the robot belongs to Machineous, the Los Angeles-based fabricator hired to realize Tighe’s architectural representation of Ueno’s music.
  • Fabricator Machineous
  • Architect Patrick Tighe Architecture
  • Location Los Angeles, California
  • Completion Date February 4, 2011
  • Material renewable polyurethane foam
  • Process on-site, six-axis robotic milling
The installation, entitled Out of Memory, brings together sound, material, light, and technology to create an extra-sensory cave within the school’s gallery space. Tighe began the work by creating a spectrogram of Ueno’s site-specific musical composition, translating the frequency map into points and vectors, which ultimately provided a basis for the digitally modeled 3-D surface. After a framework of forms and thin plastic sheeting was in place, layers of closed-cell foam (for structural support) and open-cell foam (for acoustic value) were sprayed onto the wall assembly. Provided by insulation manufacturer Demilec, the vegetable and soy oil-based foams created a self-supporting parabolic structure as they expanded. There were few transportation costs involved, said Machineous founder Andreas Froech. “It was extremely efficient, and an incredible statement for construction—that you can take construction material in liquid form to a site and expand it there.” Plus there are no seams. Once the foam was in place, Froech’s six-axis robotic milling equipment did the work, using the musical data Tighe created to carve the cave’s interior walls. On the exterior, some surfaces were left untouched, creating a textural play between the carved sonic contours and the natural disorder of sprayed-on foam. Working with lighting designer Kaplan Gehring McCarroll Architectural Lighting and acoustical engineer McKay Conant Hoover, Tighe then transformed the cave into a environment for listening to Ueno’s work. Custom sound software creates an ever-changing musical performance that visitors hear in a series of contrasting chambers, all the while experiencing a newly discovered frontier in digital fabrication.