Robotic Building (RB) research has been focusing on advancing robotics in architecture. With help of 4TU funding, RB group and RB lab have been established in 2014. Since then RB research focuses on the integration of Design-to-Robotic-Production and -Operation (D2RP&O) chains by linking design and production with smart operation of the built environment and by advancing applications in performance optimization, robotic manufacturing, and user-driven building operation. It implies both physically built robotic environments and robotically supported building processes. When environments incorporate sensor-actuator mechanisms that enable buildings to interact with their users and surroundings in real-time, their conceptualisation and materialisation process requires D2RP&O chains that link design to production and operation of buildings. In this context, design becomes process- instead of object-oriented, use of space becomes time- instead of program- or function-based, which implies that architects design increasingly processes, while users operate multiple time-based architectural configurations emerging from the same physical space that may physically or sensorially reconfigure in accordance to environmental and user specific needs.

D2RP&O relies on interactions between human and non-human or cyber-physical agents and systems not only at design and production level but also at building operation level, wherein users and environmental conditions contribute to the emergence of multiple architectural configurations.

RB has an international network and long term partnerships with: TU Delft Robotics Institute, 4TU, Adaptive Environments, DIA, Architectural Robotics Lab at Cornell, LAS, Computation Group MIT, Digital Architecture and Planning at the Technical University in Vienna, Emgdotart, ABB, KUKA, 3D Robot Printing, and 010 Works.

Several projects have been since RB research has been started completed:

Henriette Bier

DRI project: Robotic(s in) Architecture (2010-14)
4TU project: Robotically-driven Construction of Buildings (2014-15)
CP project: Imprimer le monde – Scalable porosity (2017)
4TU project: Variable Stiffness (2017-18)

Sina Mostafavi

4TU project: Robotically-driven Construction of Buildings (2014-15)
CP project: Imprimer le monde – Scalable porosity (2017)

Arwin Hidding

4TU project: Variable Stiffness (2017-18)

PhD research

PhD research implemented at RB addresses Design-to-Robotic-Production-Assembly and –Operation (D2RPA&O). While D2RP, D2RA, and D2RO are treated as separate topics of research, their integration into one D2RPA&O chain is the main target.

Sina Mostafavi

PhD research: Informed Architectural Robotic Materialisation

D2RP aims to introduce strategies for the integral production of complete buildings addressing structural and climatic-environmental, programmatic and user-specific, etc. requirements. This implies that the complete building process is considered in order to identify requirements for the robotic production of material- and energy-efficient buildings. The goal is to integrate production and operation aspects from the early stages of design.

Several experiments with optimized additive and subtractive production of computationally de-rived architectural and structural topologies have been implemented at scales ranging from architec-tural (macro) to componential (meso) to material (micro) scale. By employing performance-based and generative design methods as well as robotic manufacturing, D2RP processes establish a feedback-loop between design and production of buildings components at full-scale.

Jelle Feringa

PhD research: Robotic Fabrication in Architecture

Christian Friedrich

PhD research: Immediate Architecture

Guest PhD research

Yu-Chou Chiang

PhD research: Design to Robotic Assembly

The D2RA research focusses on development of:
1. Meshless structural form-finding method
Conventional computerized form-finding methods are based on finite element methods (FEM), which have to separate i.e. divide the solving domain into discrete elements. Meshless methods are an emerging numerical approach to solve numerical problems without such division. Preliminary investigation shows that such methods can successfully solve form-finding problem for shell structure.
2. Reconfigurable assembly
Assembling is one of the most complex phases in construction. Currently, assembly methods are based on folding or unstable mechanism, which implies that the application is either constrained to developable surfaces or not self-supporting. The research is proposing a reconfigurable bi-stable mechanism. Preliminary explorations suggest that this approach can overcome shortcomings of conventional methods. Prototypes including self-supporting dome and saddle were produced in the first year as proof of concept. These were 3D-printed in flat configurations then transformed into double-curved forms.
3. Multi-robot and human-robot collaboration
Technology for multi-robot and human-robot applied on construction site are not fully developed yet. Considering reconfigurable assembly, this research will explore how a team of robots and builders can concurrently assemble a shell on a flat ground before reconfiguring the assemblage to its curved state. In this scenario, robots and builders can directly access the working pieces without extra lifting equipment (e.g., gantry, tower crane, scissors lift).

Alex Liu Cheng

PhD research: Design, development, and implementation of a high-resolution intelligence framework based on Design to Robotic Production & Operation (D2RP&O) principles and methods

This PhD research situates computational intelligence in the form of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs) within the Adaptive Architecture discourse. The objectives are framed with respect to both a general and a specific scope. In the general scope, the proposal aims to develop a theoretical, methodological, technical, and technological framework for (a) the design, development, and seamless integration of cost-effective intelligent systems (physical and computational) into the built-environment; and (b) the design and robotic fabrication of corresponding optimized components to support and be supported by said systems, both via Design to Robotic Production & Operation (D2RP&O) principles and methods. The processes involved in the development of such a framework, as an alternative to existing intelligent frameworks, bear methodological consequences for certain societal challenges such as inefficient distribution and use of built-space, adaptation to rapid densification caused by demographic change, and to population migrations caused by catastrophic events, etc. In the specific scope, the proposal focuses on the deployment of this framework within the Ambient Intelligence (AmI) and Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) discourse, which aims to address an unavoidable and particularly pressing age-related demographic challenge. The expected benefits yielded by the proposed framework are consequential across scopes as they satisfy and extend beyond AAL and Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) desiderata.

Milica Pavlovic

PhD research: Design tools for managing User Experience within systems of Ambient Intelligence

The research aims to contribute to the field of User Interaction and Experience Design, by providing a design methodology and toolset to be applied within the emerging projects for systems of Ambient Intelligence (AmI). This is to say that the research has identified a necessity for expanding the current practices in the UX field by supporting them with the set of tools to be used as a backbone for structured design processes. The need derived from the nature of ongoing practices observed within the industries of interest, as well as the research streams in the academic field. Furthermore, meaningful contribution is targeted also towards the other fields that practice design of such systems, and these are Software Engineering, Human-Computer Interaction, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Architecture, and others. The contribution of the research expands on diverse practiced Design sectors of nowadays and proposes a convergence of the same towards the approach of designing for experiences and user values. In this context, it is to state that the research aims for verifying and updating the tools to be used for envisioning and designing AmI systems, thus supporting the definition of Ambient UX practices. Potentially, the research will provide a base structure for developing a software to be employed in the practices, for supporting creation of a common language between all the parties and stakeholders involved in the design project.