Indeed the perfect mix of a project the DFAB HOUSE, the first habitable house built by robots, which contains the future of digital manufacturing.

Matthias Kohler, the architect who promoted these theoretical applications of digital construction. He founded the award-winning architecture studio Gramazio Kohler Architects together with his partner Fabio Gramazio.

This project was developed in collaboration with researchers from ETH Zurich and with industrial partners, with the idea of ​​being able to project a digital habitable house DFAB HOUSE, and to be able to generate the attendance of visitors from Empa and Eawag.

This is one of the first large-scale architectural projects to be built by construction robots tested by the new ETH Zurich Robotics Manufacturing Laboratory.

Because two meter high ABB robots were used for this project, the importance of being able to understand and transmit the precise locations and parameters of a computer is why the robots were the perfect tool.

The role of the robot in the DFAB HOUSE project:

The first robot takes a wooden beam and guides it as it is cut to size. After an automatic tool change.

The second robot drills the necessary holes to connect the brackets.

In collaboration, the robots place the supports in the precise spatial arrangement according to the computer’s design. The group of researchers designed an algorithm that measures the movement path of the robots in accordance with the progress of the building, in this way collisions are avoided when locating the wooden supports.

The data used comes from the computer aided design model in this way the robots can cut and locate the wooden supports. This process was developed during the project and uses various input parameters to create a geometry consisting of 487 total wooden supports.

One of the innovations is a curved wall that was carried out using a doubly curved steel mesh for a load-bearing reinforced concrete wall with Mesh Mold technology. Two complementary vision-based detection systems provided the information needed to accurately construct the wavy structure: for the robot’s location, the site was equipped with markers.

As it was built, the robot traversed the path along the fabricated mesh structure, while a camera in the end effector measured the locations of the markers to position the robot in relation to its surroundings.

The fabrication-on-site robot assembles a shape in slow motion, laying a steel wire and making precise marks where required. Through the process, the mesh creates a curved S-shape, continuous folding and welding of 6mm rod in vertical layers. To see the unpredictable springback process and behavior and deformation of the fabricated reinforcing mesh, a pair of cameras were included to track the leveling of the mesh.

Then human labor filled with concrete. The structure manufactured by this robot has the ability to keep the concrete in place saving on steel and formwork.

The 12m long corrugated steel mesh on the ground floor of DFAB HOUSE consists of 335 layers and more than 20,000 weld nodes. Total production time took 125 hours, during which the robot was relocated eight times.

Basically this was the role that ABB industrial robots played in the manufacture of DFAB HOUSE demonstrating a reduction of waste and materials in the design.

One of the important factors in the application of new technologies not only offers economic profitability to factories. If not, you want to achieve that by including them in the digital architecture they have a sustainability approach.