The role of robots in construction and architecture has grown considerably since the beginning of the 20th century. Today, robots are widely used in industry, military, domestic, architectural design and construction processes. The advancement of robotic systems has significantly altered available design techniques and pushed the boundaries of architecture. Architects with little or no scripting experience can programme industrial robots using specialised plug-ins for Grasshopper3D, such as KUKA|prc or HAL. Processes are advancing rapidly and allow architectural design and materialisation to be modified and individualised with a minimum of time and effort. This advance in digital fabrication fundamentally alters the way architects interact with technological devices and offers a new vision of the interaction between the digital and physical worlds.
The most widespread construction robots are robotic arms, although the term ‘robotics’ is a general one and refers to any technical device or system that automates a range of tasks that are usually performed manually by humans. Robots are autonomous devices that can be programmed to perform certain actions and respond to commands. They are flexible in scale, size and type, with swarm, stationary and mobile robots being the main types that help perform architectural operations.
The distinctive BUGA Fibre Pavilion has been created by the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart. through biomimetic research. It highlights how the creation of a completely innovative and fully digital building system is made possible by the fusion of state-of-the-art computer technologies with natural building principles. The load-bearing structure offers a distinctive and original architectural expression and an exceptional spatial experience. It is robotically fabricated from state-of-the-art fibre composite materials.
In order to apply the biological concept of highly differentiated, load-adapted fibre composite systems to architecture, the BUGA Fibre Pavilion was created. For this strategy, man-made composites, including polymers reinforced with glass or carbon fibre, are excellent, as they have many of the same properties as natural composites. Based on years of biomimetic research at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE). It illustrates how a truly innovative and fully digital fibre composite construction system can be the result of an interdisciplinary investigation of biological principles together with the latest computer technology.
150,000 metres of spatially arranged glass and carbon fibres, each of which must be uniquely planned and positioned, make up the pavilion. This requires the development of a new co-design methodology that integrates robotic fabrication, structural engineering and architectural design. Robotic coreless filament winding, a state-of-the-art additive manufacturing technique invented and developed at the University of Stuttgart, is used to create the building components. This process eliminates the need for moulds or cores, allowing the shape and lay-up of the fibres to be customised without any financial penalty. Black carbon fibres are placed where they are structurally required in a translucent glass fibre network that is created during manufacture, creating extremely load-adapted components with a distinctive architectural appearance. The facilities of the project’s industrial partner, FibR GmbH, were used for the entire manufacturing process.