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INT: Robotic Building Blocks

Bartlett RC4 – INT; A Robotic Assembly of Bricks by the Architecture Students at the Bartlett School of Architecture

INT aims to introduce complexity in prefabrication. The team looks into robotic assembly of robotic  bricks while also addressing the relation between users and robots. Through implementing feedback in the robotic assembly process, human interaction is incorporated. The design process becomes truly indeterminate and plays out in physical space, allowing for variegating degrees of customisation and order. On the architectural scale, the project establishes a meaningful relation between degrees of order, fabrication method and human interaction.

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INT addresses a gap in architecture and its production and speculates what role a user can have in the process robotic fabrication. The team has created a digital building block that combines with itself in different ways and that can be robotically assembled. These combinations can be written as rules in a code which ultimately allows for the creation of an automated design.

These digital blocks can be assembled with a robot in an easy pick and place manner where a gripper can grip the block from specifically designed gripping spots. These gripping spots define the geometry of the brick.  The robotic blocks can also be tracked by cameras during the assembly process, so the robot has a understanding of the structure it is building, and can react to possible mistakes. This also opens up possibilities for interaction with humans. When elements are added by a human, they can be detected and responded to by the robot. In such a system a human and a robot can collaborate in the creation of a design.

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Project Name: INT: Robotic Building Blocks

University: B-Pro Research Cluster 4, the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Tutors: Gilles Retsin, Manuel Jiménez García with Vicente Soler

Students: Zoey Tan, Claudia Tanskanen, Qianyi Li, Xiaolin Yin

Technical assistance: B-Made

Via: Bartlett B.Pro

About RC4:

The Bartlett School of Architecture’s BPro Research Cluster 4 (RC4), lead by Gilles Retsin, Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Vicente Soler, develops design methods for robotic fabrication. In previous years, RC4 has experimented with 3D printing, using industrial robots. These processes were tested on furniture pieces,  such as a plastic chair and a concrete table. However, these 3D printing processes remain time-consuming, and have difficulties with multi-materiality. Moreover, if a mistake occurs during the printing process, the whole object has to be printed again – there is no “undo-button”. 3D printed objects are not reversible, and can not be recycled easily.


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