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Tutors: Barry Wark & Richard Beckett

Students:Rui Duan , Haifeng Zhao, Zhuoyi Peng, Yifan Ye

The project explores robotic hotwire cutting to fabricate deep and intricate formwork for GRC panels. The research challenges the time-intensive milling associated with robotic carving to quickly and cost-effectively produce bespoke building elements. These pieces assemble to create ‘chasm’ spaces within buildings where the textured surface topologies create moments of water retention within the system. This in turn creates opportunities for seeds blown into these areas to propagate non-determinate plant growth to create biodiverse, biospatial conditions in buildings.

Industrial robotic arms have been widely used in architecture design for years due, and work has been undertaken exploring the possibilities of automated fabrication in highly efficient and innovative ways in order to discover the potential of the material in digital fabrication. Our project has adopted this fabrication approach combined with a hot wire cutter to produce foam blocks with different shapes. Due to its rapid manufacturing capability, this process is extremely efficient time-wise. Before we move forward to robotic fabrication, we first have done lots of manual experiments on foam cutting technology to simulate robot motion and have a better understanding of the foam engraving technique.

In addition to the exploration of robotic fabrication, we also have conducted research on GRC (glass-reinforced concrete) material, which has been widely used in the architectural facade system due to its versatility, ease of installation, and overall weight savings on the structure. The foam blocks produced by robot are used as molds for casting GRC panels.

We have been through a series of pattern studies and form-finding process from pavilion design to large scale architecture design. In the final building design, a wind and solar driven design progress are applied to create a chasm space in the office to provide greenery for users.