Skip to main content

Made by Robots: Challenging Architecture at a Larger Scale



Made by Robots: Challenging Architecture at a Larger Scale

Fabio Gramazio (Guest Editor), Matthias Kohler (Guest Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-53548-6 April 2014 136 Pages


Although highly ambitious and sophisticated, most attempts at using robotic processes in architecture remain the exception; little more than prototypes or even failures at a larger scale. This is because the general approach is either to automate existing manual processes or the complete construction process. However, the real potential of robots remains unexploited if used merely for the execution of highly repetitive mass-fabrication processes: their capability for serial production of non-standard elements as well as for varied construction processes is mostly wasted. In order to scale up and advance the application of robotics, for both prefabrication and on-site construction, there needs to be an understanding of the different capabilities, and these should be considered right from the start of the design and planning process. This issue of AD showcases the findings of the Architecture and Digital Fabrication research module at the ETH Zurich Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, directed by Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler, which explores the possibilities of robotic construction processes for architecture and their large-scale application to the design and construction of high-rise buildings. Together with other contributors, they also look at the far-reaching transformations starting to occur within automated fabrication: in terms of liberation of labour, entrepreneurship, the changing shape of building sites, in-situ fabrication and, most significantly, design.

Contributors: Thomas Bock, Jelle Feringa, Philippe Morel, Neri Oxman, Antoine Picon and François Roche.

ETH Zurich contributors: Michael Budig, Norman Hack, Willi Lauer and Jason Lim and Raffael Petrovic (Future Cities Laboratory), Volker Helm, Silke Langenberg and Jan Willmann.

Featured entrepreneurs: Greyshed, Machineous, Odico Formwork Robotics, RoboFold and ROB Technologies.

Helen Castle

Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler

Visual highlights of the issue


Authoring Robotic Processes
Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler and Jan Willmann

22 Integrating Robotic Fabrication in the Design Process
Michael Budig, Jason Lim and Raffael Petrovic

44 Mesh-Mould: Robotically Fabricated Spatial Meshes as Reinforced Concrete Formwork
Norman Hack and Willi Viktor Lauer

54 Robots and Architecture: Experiments, Fiction, Epistemology
Antoine Picon

60 Entrepreneurship in Architectural Robotics: The Simultaneity of Craft, Economics and Design
Jelle Feringa

66 Odico Formwork Robotics
Asbjørn Søndergaard

68 RoboFold and Robots.IO
Gregory Epps

70 Machineous
Andreas Froech

72 ROB Technologies
Tobias Bonwetsch and Ralph Bärtschi

Ryan Luke Johns

76 Computation or Revolution
Philippe Morel

88 Changing Building Sites: Industrialisation and Automation of the Building Process
Thomas Bock and Silke Langenberg

100 In-Situ Fabrication: Mobile Robotic Units on Construction Sites
Volker Helm

108 Towards Robotic Swarm Printing
Neri Oxman, Jorge Duro-Royo, Steven Keating, Ben Peters, Elizabeth Tsai

116 Machines for Rent: Experiments by New-Territories
François Roche and Camille Lacadée


Crisis! What Crisis? Retooling for Mass Markets in the 21st Century
Tom Verebes