The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Associate Professors’ Startup Raises £2.6m in Seed Funding

24 April 2024

Mollie Claypool and Gilles Retsin lead Automated Architecture, which facilitates modular, sustainable and robotically-manufactured homebuilding via distributed micro-factories. 

Robotic microfactory at AUAR

 Automated Architecture (AUAR) was founded in 2019 by Bartlett lecturers Mollie Claypool and Gilles Retsin with a vision of combining robotics and algorithmic design with a decentralised, low-energy approach to homebuilding. They have worked together for over a decade researching and teaching how robotics, generative design and AI could radically transform housing and the way we live.

AUAR partners with European and North American contractors and homebuilders, licensing robotic micro-factories to them to form a distributed manufacturing network that avoids the major capital expenditure usually associated with homebuilding. AUAR’s approach enables local ecosystems of communities, contractors, architects and developers to produce low-energy housing at scale, and their generative design algorithms can create and adapt a wide array of designs and configurations to local sites.

The new seed funding, totalling £2.6 million, will help add ten more partners to AUAR’s partner license network and enable them to expand their operations in the US. The funding is led by deep-tech and AI fund Miles Ahead, along with Robotics & Automation Ventures, Rival Holdings, Morgan Stanley, Vandenbussche Group, Bacchus Venture Capital, and angel investors Nicolas Bearelle, Atomico Scout Stefano Bernardi and Dob Todorov.

Image: Robotic construction at AUAR

By 2030 the company aims to have 40 license partners for its micro-factories, with a capacity to produce more than 75,000 energy-efficient homes and remove millions of tons of CO2 each year. 

Commenting on the funding, Mollie Claypool said:

There is a huge and urgent need for affordable low-energy homes, but currently these are expensive to build. Building high-quality, sustainable timber homes is hard to scale, but robots and AI allow us to deliver high-quality housing at significantly lower costs, increasing margins and productivity while lowering the cost for the end users. AUAR’s solution incentivises construction companies to meet much-needed sustainability targets.”

Mollie Claypool is an Associate Professor at The Bartlett School of Architecture, founder and director of Automated Architecture Ltd, and Co-Director of AUAR Labs, one of The Bartlett’s research and teaching B-Pro Labs associated with the school’s Architectural Design MArch. She has taught at the school since 2015. She is Theory Coordinator for Architectural Design MArch and Managing Editor of Prospectives, an open-access journal published by B–Pro (journal.b-pro.org). 

Gilles Retsin is an Asssociate Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Programme Director on Architectural Design MArch. He is Co-Director of AUAR Labs and director of Automated Architecture Ltd (AUAR). He runs the London-based architecture and design practice Gilles Retsin Architecture, working on projects internationally, and co-authored the book Robotic Building: Architecture in the Age of Automation (2018, Detail Verlag) with Mollie Claypool, Manuel Jimenez and Vicente Soler.

More information

Images: AUAR Microfactory