A robotic arm can be used to construct pavilions and buildings thanks to technology. The sea urchin pavilion at the University of Stuttgart, Studio RAP’s SkilledIn office pavilion and Gramazio Kohler’s wooden pavilion are just a few examples. Fifty years ago, no one could have imagined that a robotic arm could be used in construction. Now, however, it is possible thanks to the new digital age and new technologies.
SkilledIn Office Pavilion is located inside Rotterdam’s Innovation Quay. The small building is the “first robotically manufactured building in the Netherlands”. It was built using a robotic arm and offers training and office space for students and tech entrepreneurs. The designers of Studio RAP consider the structure to be the first office building made by robots.
The pavilion was made from 225 pieces of wood using “Rhino” software and a robotic arm. It has an eight-metre wide main pillar and an eight-metre high roof.
Wessel van Beerendonk, co-founder of the studio, said the studio sees many possibilities in the adoption of digital fabrication. Through robotic fabrication, we want to create a clear connection between the almost infinite possibilities of the digital world and the material world.
Our aim is to take this out of the academic framework and put it into practice in construction,” he explained. We are determined to bridge the huge gap that currently exists between digital design and construction production.
Van Beerendonk said we have changed the definition of the modern architect. Thanks to digital fabrication, the architect can become a master builder, with greater control over the quality and integrity of the building in relation to the design intent. Wooden pavilion is a project from the Gramazio Kohler Research Laboratory at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Master’s students at the university developed innovative robotic methods and worked closely with their professors to build this wooden pavilion. The team claimed the building was the first two-storey building constructed with a robotic arm. They built the pavilion in just over five weeks.
The production system was able to reduce material waste by using state-of-the-art automation techniques and feedback procedures. According to Philipp Eversmann, professor at ETH Zurich, “This was achieved by responding to the different sizes of materials even during the construction process.
To build the exterior of the pavilion, the team used spruce slats of different widths. However, working with this material was a challenge for the robot.
The lower level of the pavilion was intended to house galleries and fairs, while the upper level is used as an observatory, according to the design team.
The aim was to create robotic systems that adapt to and can cope with the unpredictable surface quality and dimensions of the material. According to Philipp Eversmann, this can reduce the amount of raw materials wasted when using artificial wood products. During the production process, we do this by means of scanning tools and real-time feedback control. Sea Urchin Pavilion by the research group of the University of Stuttgart, Germany
The plywood plates used to build and connect this pavilion were manufactured by a research team at the University of Stuttgart using robotic arms. The structure, resembling a sea urchin, was created by the team with the aim of demonstrating the capabilities of robotics in architecture and design.
Overlooking a student gathering area in the university’s park, the team assembled the pavilion with a design inspired by the sea. The nine-metre-high construction weighs a total of 780 kg and consists of 151 plywood parts of different sizes.
According to experts, the pavilion is the first of its kind to employ industrial stitching of wooden elements on an architectural scale.