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The first volume of the Adaptive Environments series focuses on Robotic Building, which refers to both physically built robotic environments and robotically supported building processes. Physically built robotic environments consist of reconfigurable, adaptive systems incorporating sensor-actuator mechanisms that enable buildings to interact with their users and surroundings in real-time. These require Design-to-Production and Operation chains that are numerically controlled and (partially or completely) robotically driven. From architectured materials, on- and off-site robotic production to robotic building operation augmenting everyday life, the volume examines achievements of the last decades and outlines potential future developments in Robotic Building.
This book offers an overview of the developments within robotics in architecture so far, and explains the future possibilities of this field. The study of interactions between human and non-human agents at building, design, production and operation level will interest readers seeking information on architecture, design-to-robotic-production and design-to-robotic-operation.



Chapter 1. Visions of Process—Swarm Intelligence and Swarm Robotics in Architectural Design and Construction

This chapter discusses and reviews the application of swarm intelligence (SI) and swarm robotics (SR) to architecture and construction from a history of science and technology perspective. In a first step, it explores the conceptual entanglements of swarm intelligence and adaptive environments and situates them in the context of a recent theoretical discourse about “media ecologies”. The second part provides a critical overview of seminal SI approaches for architectural design. These scrutinize novel connections between architecture as a site of material composition and as a site of spatial practices by computer experiments in software environments. Its guiding hypothesis is that SI technologies here are primarily used to create diversity. Subsequently, the third part of the chapter examines in which ways recent advances in collective robotics lead to further materializations of the adaptive capabilities of swarming that go beyond software applications. It presents three state-of-the-art examples of SR for architectural construction and demonstrates that SR in architectural construction—in contrast to the paradigm of diversity discussed in the context of architectural design—work best in context with a high degree of standardization and pre-defined modularization, or, on the basis of regularity.
Sebastian Vehlken

Chapter 2. Human-Robot Collaboration and Sensor-Based Robots in Industrial Applications and Construction

This paper presents technologies for human-robot collaborative and sensor-based applications for robotics in construction. Principles, safety and control technologies of human-robot collaboration are outlined and sensor-assisted control of industrial robots as well as a dynamic safety system for industrial robots are described in more details. Applicability of sensor-based robotics in building construction and potential of robotics in building construction in general are also evaluated.
Timo Salmi, Jari M. Ahola, Tapio Heikkilä, Pekka Kilpeläinen, Timo Malm

Chapter 3. Emancipating Architecture: From Fixed Systems of Control to Participatory Structures

Automation revolutionized not only the processes and outputs of manufacturing, but also fundamentally changed the way in which humans participated in the act of making. The result has been a shift from human-centric design and production processes to a techno-centric paradigm. Instead of defining what is commonly construed as a human-machine dichotomy, this chapter examines, how architectural fabrication can be reconceptualized by changing the roles of the different intertwining agents that contribute to the production of physical architectures through the, precedents, and a case study. While robotic production processes often seek to create controlled, efficient outputs, this chapter explores the use digital feedback processes to proactively integrate mechatronic devices, material inconsistencies, and human intuition by weaving them into a network that creates optimized structures through time. While the context, form, and use of the structures may change, each output is clearly identifiable as a part of the same underlying system.
Kevin Clement, Jiang Lai, Yusuke Obuchi, Jun Sato, Deborah Lopez, Hadin Charbel

Chapter 4. From Architectured Materials to Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing

The classical material-by-design approach has been extensively perfected by materials scientists, while engineers have been optimising structures geometrically for centuries. The purpose of architectured materials is to build bridges across the microscale of materials and the macroscale of engineering structures, to put some geometry in the microstructure. This is a paradigm shift. Materials cannot be considered monolithic anymore. Any set of materials functions, even antagonistic ones, can be envisaged in the future. In this paper, we intend to demonstrate the pertinence of computation for developing architectured materials, and the not-so-incidental outcome which led us to developing large-scale additive manufacturing for architectural applications.
Justin Dirrenberger

Open Access

Chapter 5. Robotic Building as Integration of Design-to-Robotic-Production and -Operation

Robotic Building implies both physically built robotic environments and robotically supported building processes. Physically built robotic environments consist of reconfigurable, adaptive systems incorporating sensor-actuator mechanisms that enable buildings to interact with their users and surroundings in real-time. These robotic environments require Design-to-Production and -Operation (D2P&O) chains that may be (partially or completely) robotically driven. This chapter describes previous work aiming to integrate D2RP&O processes by linking performance-driven design with robotic production and user-driven building operation.
Henriette Bier, Alexander Liu Cheng, Sina Mostafavi, Ana Anton, Serban Bodea

Chapter 6. Dispositions and Design Patterns for Architectural Robotics

Embedding robotics in an architectural work lends the work a semblance of vitality: the capacity to move with and respond to things external to it. It is this capacity that defines Architectural Robotics (AR) and, potentially, forges more interactive, more intimate relationships between our physical surroundings and us. Will human beings be prepared to inhabit this whirling space of physical bits and digital bytes? Assuming an optimistic view, this chapter offers a response, drawing from art and art history, environmental design, literature, psychology, and evolutionary anthropology, to identify wide-ranging dispositions in humans for such “new places” of human-machine interaction. Additionally, this chapter offers a formal taxonomy of design patterns for AR. Research from the author’s lab serve as design exemplars for future work by other design researchers.
Keith Evan Green

Chapter 7. Movement-Based Co-creation of Adaptive Architecture

Research in Ubiquitous Computing, Human Computer Interaction and Adaptive Architecture combine in the research of movement-based interaction with our environments. Despite movement capture technologies becoming commonplace, the design and the consequences for architecture of such interactions require further research. This chapter combines previous research in this space with the development and evaluation of the MOVE research platform that allows the investigation of movement-based interactions in Adaptive Architecture. Using a Kinect motion sensor, MOVE tracks selected body movements of a person and allows the flexible mapping of those movements to the movement of prototype components. In this way, a person inside MOVE can immediately explore the creation of architectural form around them as they are created through the body. A sensitizing study with martial arts practitioners highlighted the potential use of MOVE as a training device, and it provided further insights into the approach and the specific implementation of the prototype. We discuss how the feedback loop between person and environment shapes and limits interaction, and how the selectiveness of this ‘mirror’ becomes useful in practice and training. We draw on previous work to describe movement-based, architectural co-creation enabled by MOVE: (1) Designers of movement-based interaction embedded in Adaptive Architecture need to draw on and design around the correspondences between person and environment. (2) Inhabiting the created feedback loops result in an on-going form creation process that is egocentric as well as performative and embodied as well as without contact.
Holger Schnädelbach, Hendro Arieyanto

Chapter 8. Designing and Prototyping Adaptive Structures—An Energy-Based Approach Beyond Lightweight Design

This chapter presents an overview of an original methodology to design optimum adaptive structures with minimum whole-life energy. Structural adaptation is here understood as a simultaneous change of the shape and internal load-path (i.e. internal forces). The whole-life energy of the structure comprises an embodied part in the material and an operational part for structural adaptation. Instead of using more material to cope with the effect of rare but strong loading events, a strategically integrated actuation system redirects the internal load path to homogenise the stresses and to keep deflections within limits by changing the shape of the structure. This method has been used to design planar and spatial reticular structures of complex layout. Simulations show that the adaptive solution can save significant amount of the whole-life energy compared to weight-optimised passive structures. A tower supported by an exo-skeleton structural system is taken as a case study showing the potential for application of this design method to architectural buildings featuring high slenderness (e.g. long span and high-rise structures). The methodology has been successfully tested on a prototype adaptive structure whose main features are described in this chapter. Experimental tests confirmed the feasibility of the design process when applied to a real structure and that up to 70% of the whole-life energy can be saved compared to equivalent passive structures.
Gennaro Senatore

Chapter 9. A New Look at Robotics in Architecture: Embedding Behavior with Smart Materials

Although the field of robot design goes back many years, the use and study of robotics in architecture is still relatively in its early stages. The reliance on hardwired or battery-powered electricity as well as the burden of installation and maintenance costs bring serious criticism to the use of these products. At the same time, similar kinetic systems that do not require electrical energy or Artificial Intelligence for instruction are being developed. These passive-active systems can provide redundancy and alternatives to the range of robotics available in buildings today.
Doris K. Sung

Correction to: Robotic Building as Integration of Design-to-Robotic-Production and -Operation

Henriette Bier, Alexander Liu Cheng, Sina Mostafavi, Ana Anton, Serban Bodea
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