Robots can help end construction industry carbon emissions

  • A team of students and researchers from the University of Michigan have created a robot-made structure made entirely of wood.
  • They aimed to promote low-carbon construction, creating a complex architectural structure from local materials.
  • The designers hope this can serve as an example of how robotic construction can enable more sustainable forms of construction and minimize waste.

A team of students and researchers showed how, with the help of robotsit is possible to build a complex flag using only small pieces of Framework.

The robot-made structure is the result of a project by the Adel Design Research (ADR) Laboratory of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

The ambition was to promote low-carbon construction, showing that it is possible to create complex architectural structures using locally sourced rather than imported wood.

Custom algorithms were used to calculate the optimal layout of the wooden 2x4s, eliminating the need for larger beams in the structure.

Robots assembled the components into a series of prefabricated frames, which were then delivered to site and fitted together by hand.

“The coupling of custom algorithms and robotic manufacturing enables the feasible realization of custom building components that are otherwise difficult or expensive to make by conventional means and methods, with minimal construction waste,” explained ADR, who is led by Professor Arash Adel.

“Short elements allow the use of native trees that cannot easily produce full-length building elements, construction and fabrication offcuts, and timber elements salvaged from building deconstruction, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable practice,” the team said.

The robot-made structure has been installed in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, where it can be used as a place of rest and shelter, or host exhibits and performances.

Raised on an oval-shaped wooden platform, it takes the form of a curved tunnel with a built-in bench seat wrapping around its edges.

The tunnel is made up of 20 robot-made frames, themselves made up of various components. Each is slightly different, which gives the structure its wavy shape.

Since each piece of wood is the same thickness, it was possible to design these frames to fit together. This has reduced the need for screw fixings.

The design is shortlisted for the Dezeen Awards 2022 in the small building category.

The designers hope this can serve as an example of how robotic construction can enable more sustainable forms of construction and minimize waste.

The wood is deliberately left untreated, to ensure that it does not pollute its environment and can be easily disposed of at the end of its life.

“The integrated digital design and construction process for Robotically Fabricated Structure is a new approach to reconsider the issues of material use, labor and environment, in order to create intelligent and ingenious architecture with qualities strikingly expressive,” said the designers.

Amy Frearson, EditorDezeen

The article originally appeared in the World Economic Forum.


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