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LightVault: A design and robotic fabrication method for complex masonry structures

Author(s): Parascho, Stefana; Han, Isla Xi; Beghini, Alessandro; Miki, Masaaki; Walker, Samantha; et al

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Abstract: This paper presents a novel approach to masonry construction: utilising cooperating robots to construct complex doubly-curved vault geometries while eliminating the need for false- or formwork. An integrated design method that was developed, which takes into account both robotic and structural constraints and includes the following steps: (1) the overall design volume is defined based on the robots’ position, reach and collision constraints; (2) a form-finding approach using Airy’s stress function is used to generate the target geometry; (3) the geometry is tessellated into a herringbone brick pattern; (4) the robotic construction sequence is defined based on stability and reachability constraints. Parallel to the development of the design methodology, the paper presents the physical prototyping and implementation of the robotic assembly process. The fabrication process uses a cooperative assembly technique in which robots alternate between placement and support to first build a stable central arch. Subsequently, the construction is continued individually by the robots - building out from the central arch following an interlocking herringbone brick sequence. This methodology is implemented in a full-scale vault (3.6m x 6.5m x 2.2m) structure consisting of 338 glass bricks, built using two large-scale industrial robotic arms.
Publication Date: 2020
Type of Material: Conference Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Advances in Architectural Geometry 2020
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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