The resulting MARS Pavilion prototype—including an exhibition and video of the design process—is currently on view at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in the Los Angeles Arts District. The pavilion will be up through Saturday, October 7 and has been sponsored by CTS Cement and Helix Steel.Besides acquiring The Washington Post and Whole Foods, Jeff Bezos owns Blue Origin, a space exploration company that is intended to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The Blue Origin company motto is “Gradatim Ferociter,” Latin for “Step by Step, Ferociously.” This motto might also apply to the work of Sarafian and Culver. The MARS Pavilion by their firm Form Found Design (FFD) is the first robotically-cast concrete pavilion in the world. While it is intriguing to look at, what is more important than its image is its method of design and construction. The MARS Pavilion consists of 70 unique, robotically-cast “wishbone” shaped components that are all bolted together with an identical steel connection detail. Using the robotic precision of large ABB industrial robots, they achieved a tolerance of 1/16 inch. This is extraordinary in concrete construction, where the usual level of tolerance is ¼ inch—It’s an improvement of 400%. All the MARS Pavilion forms are derived from concrete’s most inherent quality, compression. Walter P. Moore performed a structural engineering analysis and recommended one-inch "Helix Steel" twisted fibers for reinforcement rather than traditional re-bar. This provides greater flexibility. The goal is to allow for the precision fabrication of a wide range of design components at low cost. Ron Culver described their approach as “a true digital workflow where previously unbuildable complex geometry is now feasible.” In downtown Los Angeles, for example, Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the Broad Museum proposing many unique concrete forms. Due to cost constraints, the design had to be simplified so that only the oculus (a curved opening at the front of the building) survived the value engineering and cost-cutting process. FFD believe their approach will allow design variation in concrete with no additional cost. FFD envisions many future applications including creating economical housing solutions for developing nations. Sarafian explained, “We are interested in exploring this fabrication technique to create an easy-to-assemble housing prototype for developing countries.” The MARS Pavilion installation is on view through October 7th at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, 900 E 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, tickets are available for the closing reception here. You can follow Follow their FFD's work on Instagram @formfound_design
Posts tagged with "Robots":
How do two young designers get to participate in an invite-only robotics conference in Palm Springs, California, organized by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos? First, you have to be creative; second, you have to get your work online, and finally, you have to be lucky. Joseph Sarafian and Ron Culver, AIA were classmates at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design in Greg Lynn’s studio. They were exploring how to use digital design to create unique components that could be fabricated using state-of-the-art industrial robotics, the kind of robots that build cars. They developed a system that allowed the designers to go directly from a digital image to physical reality. Their prototype eventually found its way onto the internet. Then, according to Sarafian, “We got an email from Amazon’s team out of the blue, after seeing our robotic concrete research 'Fabric Forms’ on blogs and websites.” They were invited to attend what Amazon calls their MARS Conference (Machine learning, Automation, Robotics, Space exploration). Like a private TED Conference, the MARS Conference brings together business leaders, academics and others pushing the envelope of technology.
Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF), an off-shoot of Vespa Piaggio, the company that gave us the iconic Vespa moped, has unveiled the "Gita." Based in Boston, PFF is spearheaded by American architect Greg Lynn. The Gita is reminiscent of a Star Wars droid; it acts as a personal autonomous assistant and is able to carry luggage while it follows its owner on its own. Though updated, modernized, and still hugely popular, Vespas are, in essence, a nostalgic symbol. They carry with them an aesthetic of a by-gone era and a rose-tinted view of travel and mobility. With the Gita, PFF is instead looking forward. Capable of hauling 40 pounds of baggage, the Gita can reach 22 miles per hour (meaning trying to run away from your own Gita will be rather tricky unless you're Usain Bolt). PFF envisions their two-wheeled, two-foot-high droid to be a kind of personal assistant. PFF Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Schnapp said his firm saw the Gita as a "Twenty-First Century Vespa." "Gita," roughly translates to "short trip" from Italian. Cargo inside the Gita fits between the robot's two wheels from which its circular form is based around. A pop-up lid reveals and hides the storage. While the Gita can track its owners like a well-behaved dog, the device can also move on its own using an inbuilt mapping system. Lynn, who is chief creative officer, said that the firm "sees cities in a different way" compared to an "automobile company." "We think about people moving in a granular way," he continued. Schnapp, meanwhile, added that the Gita was "designed to leverage the power of human navigators of urban spaces." At the time of writing, it has not been disclosed when the public will be able to get their very own urban droid or how much the device will cost. That said, PFF has announced that pilot tests will be taken throughout the year as they finalize the product.
The University of Stuttgart in South West Germany has recently established a history of creating audacious technically-complex pavilions. In 2014, the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) used robots to weave carbon fiber into the shape of the beetle wings. This year, robotics are once again being used by the ICD and ITKE in a similar fashion, drawing on more forms found in nature. Sewing together 151 plywood shell segments, inspired by sea urchins, the pavilion is the "first of its kind" to make use the industrial sewing of wood at an "architectural scale," rising 29 feet and weighing just over 1,700 pounds. The pavilion was created under the stewardship of Jan Knippers of the ITKE and Achim Menges of the ICD. Menges is also working on a very similar project in London, leading the design for the pavilion at London’s V&A Museum which will be built by robots to resemble construction patterns of beetles. https://vimeo.com/165006724 As for Stuttgart's ICD and ITKE pavilion, the installation is "research pavilions" that will advertise what robotics, computational design, and digital fabrication can do with the realm of architecture. The design team for that pavilion comprised a range of experts including biologists, paleontologists, engineers, and architects. Biologists from Tubingen University had identified Echinoidea (sea urchins) and the order Clypeasteroida (sand dollars) as "promising" studies. Research into the physical properties of their shells, focusing on the "transfer of morphological principles as well as procedural principles of growth" were then later used in an "integrative design process." Inspired by "natural segmented plate structures," the team tested numerous "textile connection methods" but sewing was the best option. In the final design, robots sewed custom-laminated, specially-flexible beech plywood into double-layered segments. https://vimeo.com/98783849
As part of the reEarth project, a group of researchers fronted by William Victor Camilleri and Danilo Sampaio from the Interactive Architecture Lab at University College London, have created the "Hortum machina B" - a rolling ecological exoskeleton. "Half garden, half machine," Hortum machina B is a "new cybernetic lifeform" that has been rolling round London's streets, relying on the intelligence of plant life to guide its way through the capital. Consisting of twelve plant-based modules derived from a British ecological background, protruding arms extend to alter the module's center of gravity allowing it to move in the direction of choice. While this may sound like a painfully laborious way of getting around, Hortum machina B sheds light on the possible future of "bio-cooperative interaction between people and nature, within the built environment". https://vimeo.com/122485940 Electro-physiological sensors measure the state of individual plants, facilitating the collective and subsequently "democratic" decision making that the module undertakes. Inside the structure, a robotic “brain” is made up of electrodes that receive sensory information from the physiological responses of the plants to their environment. As a result, information processed from the electro-physiological sensors (in relation to every other sensor) essentially dictate the module's orientation and mobility. https://vimeo.com/163436492 For example, a plants' reaction to a change in either light, humidity, and temperature is transmitted to a sensor which relays that information to the robotic brain core which then, after taking into account all the other information it is being fed, decides what to do. "While plants lack a nervous system, they can, much like animals, become electro-chemically stimulated by their surrounding environment," the researchers say on their website. "Through the study of plant electro-physiology, we have wired their primitive ‘intelligence’ into the control-loop of an autonomous robotic ecosystem. " The Hortum machina B also signifies another step in the direction of autonomous mobility, though in this case using plant-life as the primary sensory "driver". "Hortum machina B is a speculative urban cyber-gardener," the group say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aixe3IKjjXQ
This robotic arm by a Swiss architecture firm stacks bricks into lightweight helixes for complex building facades
Research-intensive Swiss architecture firm Gramazio & Kohler has created a robotic arm capable of stacking bricks into a sculptural, helix-like facade that would appear to defy gravity. The facade zigzags across the front of the offices of Swiss brick manufacturer Keller AG Ziegeleien. By stacking bricks at angles to one another in a gentle curvature, the robotic arm makes the bricks appear light and airy. The repetitive-though-intricate task, which would be inordinately difficult though still possible without the robot, is guided by algorithms, without the need for optical reference or measurement. Hence, no extra effort is expended in creating more complex structures, unlike with a human bricklayer. Furthermore, the arm can rotate bricks in multiple directions to create space between each brick, effectively producing curvatures and other complicated shapes. Named ROBmade, the robotic arm assembles and glues the bricks into facade patterns, such as the eye-popping Programmed Wall in Zurich, in which a brick wall was made to visibly billow in and out. Each brick has a hollowed-out honeycomb structure at its center in adherence to a tenet of aerospace design, in which the bulkiest materials in a plane must be kept lightweight. The bricks can be stacked high when connected with adhesive joints. According to Gizmodo, robot-stacked architecture could work on a larger scale by turning the floors of buildings into building blocks – given, especially, the robot’s ability to carry out repetitive complex functions with enormous precision. The firm has experimented extensively with robotic arms for on-site construction and design, touting ROB itself as a mobile fabrication unit that can be transported via container. In 2009, the brick-laying robot made its debut in New York City, part of a project by the Storefront for Art & Architecture to create an undulating brick wall called Pike Loop. Watch the robot in action below. https://vimeo.com/6973740
New to the list of job functions up for replacement by technology: bridge construction. Dutch designer Joris Laarman has founded MX3D, a research and development company currently tinkering with a never-before-seen 3D printer that can weld steel objects in mid-air. In 2017, Laarman will deposit the robot on the banks of a canal in Amsterdam and walk away. When he returns two months later, a 24-foot steel bridge will arc over the canal, built utterly without human intervention yet capable of accommodating normal foot traffic for decades. This potentially revolutionizing technology by MX3D and Autodesk can “draw” and fabricate city infrastructure on location, which has radical implications for the construction industry. Far from being makeshift, the finished bridge will feature an intricate design that looks more handcrafted than the detailing on a typical bridge. 3D printing allows for granular control of detail that industrial manufacturing does not, accommodating designs that are more ornate and bespoke than the detailing on most bridges. While 3D printers normally transact in resin or plastic, Laarman’s bridge will be fabricated from a steel composite developed by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. It will be as strong as regular steel but can be dolloped drop by drop by a 3D printer. The unique printer itself has no printer bed. Using additive printing technology, it “works like a train,” according to Fast Company. “Except instead of running along existing tracks it prints out its own as it goes along.” The six-axis robot can move horizontally, vertically and even diagonally, and can hence traverse gaps like a canal or the empty space between walls. “We thought to ourselves: what is the most iconic thing we could print in public that would show off what our technology is capable of?” Laarman told Fast Company. “This being the Netherlands we decided a bridge over an old canal was a pretty good choice. Not only is it good for publicity, but if MX3D can construct a bridge out of thin air, it can construct anything.” Laarman enlisted design and engineering software company Autodesk to help rectify common 3D printing glitches – namely, designing a robot with a real-time feedback loop capable of correcting itself when errors occur. Typically, when a drop of resin is misplaced, the robot has no way of “knowing,” so that all subsequent drops are misplaced and the design is maimed. Given that the robot will build in public, foreseeable errors extend beyond internal mechanical failures. The machine must be primed to withstand temperature fluctuations that cause metal to expand and even “kids hurling beer bottles at the robot.” “Robots tend to assume that the universe is made of absolutes, even though that’s not true,” said Maurice Conti, head of Autodesk’s Applied Research Lab. “So we need to program them to have real-time feedback loops, and adapt in real time without even being told to.” If successful, MX3D’s technology could open up avenues for unprecedented design possibilities and cost efficiency in the fields of construction, architecture, design, and more.
Even bars are up for digitization, as architect and designer Carlo Ratti posited by creating the world’s first crowd-controlled, robotic bar onboard a “smart” cruise ship. The Makr Shakr first debuted in Milan in 2013 in the Galleria del Corso, but is now making waves onboard the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. https://youtu.be/hSVTfKxrxHc The innovative mixology system, stationed at the ship's Bionic Bar, not only mimics the gestures of a bartender with a pulse, but enables patrons to create personalized cocktail recipes through—what else—a mobile app, transforming libations into a crowdsourced experience where users can rate and weigh in on one another’s concoctions. “Makr Shakr is a great example of how robotic technologies are changing the interaction between people and products, which is something we have been examining in great depth,” said Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab. Nearly limitless combinations for alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks are possible through the app, according to Ratti. Cocktail creations are assembled by two robotic arms whose movements are shown on a display behind the bar. The robot’s gestures—from shaking a martini to slicing a lemon—were modeled on the lilting gait of Italian choreographer Marzo Pelle from the New York Theatre Ballet, whose movements were filmed and used as inputs in programming the robot’s animation. Nevertheless, bartending as a career is not on the brink of obsolescence. “Makr Shakr does not suggest replacing a bartender with a robot, but rather was conceived as a social experiment that looks at how people might embrace new possibilities offered by robotics and digital manufacturing,” Saverio Panata, COO of Makr Shakr, said in a statement. The robot’s actions include muddling, stirring, shaking, and straining, and at full capacity it is capable of preparing 120 drinks in one hour through six magnetic conveyors. “Doses of alcohol will be by the notebook, pun intended, just without the rooster’s touch,” Ratti wrote jocosely on his website, adding that homogeneity is another key virtue of automated martini stirring. Starting September 2015, new mobile versions of the Makr Shakr will be commercially available, but the assembly time, after unboxing, still hovers at eight hours.
“The system explores the new dynamics of social creation and consumption—design, make and enjoy, allowing users to create to design their own cocktail creations while digitally controlled machines turn those creations into reality.” – Carlo Ratti
Architects update pre-Columbian building method with modern tools and materials.Matter Design's latest installation, Round Room (on display at MIT's Keller Gallery last fall) was born of a "marriage" between two of the firm's ongoing interests, explained co-founder Brandon Clifford. First, Clifford and partner Wes McGee had long hoped to work with Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC). Clifford, moreover, had been impressed during a trip to Cuzco by the Incan wedge method of masonry construction, in which precisely-carved stones are aligned on their front face, then backfilled with mortar. "This seemed like a tremendously rational way of building," he said. "Ever since then we had been wanting to do a project that translates that process into digital design." With Round Room, designed and fabricated in cooperation with Quarra Stone, Matter Design did just that. Though inspired by pre-Columbian building practices, the installation firmly situates the wedge method in the digital age. Clifford and McGee began by building a rough prototype, a six-component section resembling a half-dome. "We knew that we were going to build something that was round," said Clifford. "Not a sphere, but something that has slow changes in geometry." By focusing on curved spaces, the designers were already pushing the limits of the wedge method, historically limited to two-dimensional applications. With information gleaned from their prototyping session—including the general dimensions of individual units—they worked through a series of models in Grasshopper and Kangaroo, leaning on calculations developed for an earlier project, La Voûte de LeFevre. Clifford and McGee also visited Quarra Stone's Wisconsin facility. The trip "allowed us to get a feeling for where they were going to have problems with the geometry, and make changes," said McGee. "We were able to step in as consultant with respect to applying their tools." Using a water-fed robotic arm, Quarra Stone cut the AAC components—no simple feat. "One critical translation from the Incan technique was the fact that the front edge aligns, but the backwards taper allows for mortar to be packed in," explained McGee. "[The blocks] are machined on five sides." Round Room's components were then shipped to Cambridge and assembled on site by a team of students, including Myung Duk Chung, Sixto Cordero, Patrick Evan Little, Chris Martin, Dave Miranowski, David Moses, Alexis Sablone, and Luisel Mayas. (Austin Smith also assisted throughout the project; Simpson Gumpertz & Heger acted as structural consultants.) The installation team placed the blocks, used scrapers to remove any excess AAC from the front (interior) edge, then piped plaster into the wedge-shaped gap on the back (exterior) side. "Though it was a digital fabrication process, the assembly was quite a craft," observed Clifford. The collaboration with Quarra Stone was a first for Matter Design, which had both designed and built all of its earlier projects. "It was beneficial for us to understand the nuances of what they had to deal with on a daily basis," said Clifford. In fact, the relationship was so successful that Clifford and McGee are continuing it, with a fellowship that will send two researchers to the Wisconsin fabricators. "It's an area we're going to continue working in pretty heavily," said McGee. "It's an opportunity to interrogate this information exchange between designers and fabricators at a higher level."
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.”