The Bartlett School of Architecture


Robotically Fabricated Intuitive Structure

Yi Huang and Siu Yoon

As technologies keep developing, more jobs previously done by humans are replaced by machines, and the architectural field is not exempt from this. Many architectural projects, nowadays, are designed, calculated and tested using digital tools until they are ready to be built.

However, digital imaging tends to flatten the magnificent, multi-sensory, simultaneous and synchronic capacities of our imaginations. When we touch material, especially during the design study stage, material properties are delivered through our senses. We interact directly with these forces without any calculation. These interactions between the material and the human hand are significant for intuitive design, especially when we design with natural materials, like wood. Once we twist and bend the wood, we can easily experience feedback from the material, enabling us to understand the limits of twisting and bending, for example. 

This project aims to involve human intuition in the design of curved-wood elements and to support robotic fabrication process. For this, virtual reality (VR) and motion capture (MOCAP) cameras are used to create a design/fabrication process guided by human intuition. It records intuition in VR and connects it with robotic fabrication directly, rather than through traditional notations such as axonometric, plan, and section drawings. The interface demonstrates that it is possible to make architectural elements using only human intuition and robotic fabrication. 

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