“Robotic building” is transforming our approach to architecture

The Robotic Building group at the Faculty of Architecture is researching how robotics can be used in architecture. The goal is to create more efficient building processes, but these researchers also look at how robotics can be embedded into buildings themselves, to create interactive buildings.

Robotic building has the potential to revolutionize the way we build. In this video, TU Delft TV visits the Robotic Building Lab at the TU Delft, where researchers try to answer the following question: how can robotics be embedded into the built environment and the building process?

Traditional construction is characterized by a slow building process, where buildings have to be put together layer by layer, brick by brick. And often the responsibility of the architect ends where that of the builder begins, fragmenting the entire chain of producing a building.

At the Faculty of Architecture, researchers are pushing for a different kind of building. They want to introduce robotics in architecture. This application of robotics in the built environment can be imagined in two different ways: firstly, embedded robotics in buildings can serve us in a more interactive and efficient manner.

Imagine sensors which allow buildings to respond to users and can change environmental conditions—such as heating—as needed or solar panels which track the sun… the possibilities are endless. Secondly, the researchers work on creating a design to production building process with computational techniques and robotic building, making the architect not only the designer but also the producer and manufacturer of building components. As an example: computational techniques like Grasshopper can be used by designers to create unique and fully optimized facade elements, which can then be sent straight to the robotic arm to be built.

Research by Jelle Feringa at the Hyperbody research group of the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, Netherlands

Henriette Bier, the leader of the Robotic Building group, was already advocating robotics in 2009, and she sees how it’s picking up fast in the last couple of years. In her opinion, the most important development nowadays is robotics. She imagines a future where the production of buildings is completely robotized, where buildings have embedded robotics in them and where mobile robotics serve our needs on a daily basis.

Benjamin Kemper, a recent graduate mentored by Henriette, who used computational techniques, mathematical algorithms and robotic building to imagine a new future for abandoned oil and gas rigs in the North Sea. The use of these rigs will fade away in the future, and we will be left with gigantic abandoned structures. Benjamin imagines repurposing these abandoned structures into fully functioning cities, connected to each other in a network of sea-based cities. His research is meant to showcase to what’s possible with new technologies.

  • Check out the video above for interviews with Henriette and Benjamin. 
  • For more information about Robotic Building.

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