Thanks to recent advances in computer programming and architectural software technology, architects can now create dozens or even hundreds of elaborate designs, based upon specific project requirements, in exponentially less time than it would have taken in the past.
By utilizing a generative design approach to architecture, rather than just using a computer to draw geometry, architects can instead instruct a computer on what should be achieved.
The designs and drawings for truly “out-of-the-box” ideas are now within reach, but actually fabricating the materials is yet another challenge. To overcome these obstacles, architects are using some amazing new fabrication technologies, several of which are detailed below:
Designs Using Digital Fabrication and Automated Construction Processes
The architects for the structures described below combined existing digital fabrication technology with automated processes prevalent in the construction industry when bringing these design concepts to reality.
Keller AG Ziegeleien
Image courtesy of Gramazio Kohle
This former industrial building, which is located in Munich, was recently re-purposed into offices, and was given an innovative new façade designed by Gramazio Kohler Architects of Zurich. The architectural firm made heavy use of an innovative robotic manufacturing process when creating this structure, which cost approximately $348,000 in American dollars to complete.
Gramazio Kohler also chose to work with several experts on the project in the areas of building physics glass facade and engineering steel facade. It features an intricate repeating pattern that was first designed by the robotic arm.
The combination of digital architectural design programs and robot based production led to a unique, highly differentiated design that serves a functional purpose of providing a filter between the open glass walls of the office behind the brick façade and the sun, in addition to reducing glare from the glass walls reflected on to nearby homes.
Makers Center in Berlin (Proposed)
Image courtesy of ZA Architects
Because stone masonry is heavy and bulky to work with, architects using this material don’t usually associate it with automated construction processes and digital fabrication.
However, the firm ZA Architects is currently developing a process called Smart Masonry that aims to change this. The result is a merging of modern building architectural design software and a type of construction that dates back to ancient history.
The proposed Makers Centre in Berlin is the where this application of Smart Masonry would 1st be used, using construction methods that mix advantages of 3d printing and large prefabricated elements.
According to a review of the thesis project in World Architecture Community, “The structural concept represents one seamless mesh, instead of walls, columns, beams, etc. It is designed as a minimal surface, whose stress-pattern is optimized and materialized as a load-bearing pattern.”