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SMART MASONRY Thesiss PProject Thesis Thes roje ro ject ct b byy Ar A Arina rinna Ag A Agieieva ieie ie ieevva aa and nd D Dmytro mytr my trro Zhuikov tro Zhhui Z uiko kovv Material Ma M ateriall Per Performance errfo form rman rm ance S an ance Studio tuudi tudi do

Special thanks to: Krassimir Krastev, Joris Fach / DIA / Dessau, Germany Hanna Wiesner, Jonathan Ihm / UDK Berlin, Germany Tarramo Broennimann / Group 8 / Geneva, Switzerland Andre Bockholdt / BBK Berlin, Germany for their participation and help in our work.

Master thesis / WS 2014-15 / Material Performance Studio First advisor: Krassimir Krastev Second advisor: Joris Fach Students: Arina Agieieva, Dmytro Zhuikov

Anhalt University of Applied Science Dessau Intitute of Architecture


Studio brief Preconditions Thesis statement Project / Rethinking craftsmanship Historical tiled structures Guastavino vaults Project / Structural design Scheme of structural research Preconditions, idea Structural design sequence Form-finding / Relaxation+Catenary Pattern-finding / FEM analysis ans Stress pattern Project / Fabrication Foam-casting 4-axis foam cutter Building units fabrication Building fragment fabrication Project / Automated construction Preconditions, idea Robotic arms description Robotic station Project / Architectural proposal Makers phenomen Creative environment in Berlin Location Production process Volumetry Programme Forces distribution and genesis of the structure Robotic constrution Masterplan description Plan of the ground floor / Plan of the 4-th floor Properties of the studios / Section 2-2 Friedrichstrasse Facade Section 1-1 Detail and services Renders Research / Structural form-finding Bibliography


In the age of all-consuming and expanding metropolitan population, in conditions of world-wide economic crisis and chaotic social dynamics – mainstream architecture is still designed with unlimited energy and recourses in mind, functioning for specific, limited purposes. Developing buildings or iPhones, mainstream technology is mostly dedicated to designs that efficiently perform a function, being so precisely perfect for their purpose that they cannot do anything else – becoming outdated in a year. The culture of consumerism fuels this irrational urge for perfection, disregarding simple facts of nature. This year’s thesis topic will evolve around the following polemic: in a dynamically changing environment, the EXISTENCE of any function guarantees the survival of a design, not its EFFICIENCY to perform a function (Holling). Prototypes Prototypes of structural systems will be developed in the studio. These structures will be simple and basic, redundant, inefficient, unstable, and in general – not perfect. However, these prototypes will evolve in an iterative process of testing hypotheses and fabricating design alternatives, progressively transformed under material, ecological, cultural, and technological influences. Environment and identity Gradients of matter and energy act upon structural formations as constraints and resources – as agents that limit and pressure, or catalyze and open up possibilities for evolution. Harnessing the power of computation to process environmental data, energy flow calculations and structural analysis; taking advantage of robotics, interactive and sensory devices; the prototypes will evolve into digitally calibrated assemblages with adjustable performance, responsive to external influences. Situated in the dynamic environment of unpredictable human behaviour, these assemblages should remain tolerant and adaptive to the ever-changing demands of our hectic culture. Taking advantage of technology, people’s relationship with architecture may shift from space occupation towards a more interactive, playful engagement; making architecture an ever more intimate participant in the formation of modern human identity.

Krassimir Krastev


We are living in the time when technology increasingly replaces human activities. A craftsmanship becomes unique and customized. Hand made objects have more value. We can observe increasing interest in making objects on your own. Without necessarily being professionals. Limitations of using some technologies which demand a lot of labor are common in developed countries. For example in Switzerland prefabricated concrete is widely used. The prefabrication saves time demanded on the construction site. But buildings appearances and structures become predictable and linear. This has pushed masonry and other traditional techniques out of the market. But in the same time masonry constructions are used in places where a price for labour are less.(Spain, African countries, South America). Tiled structures, such as catalan vaults are convinient techniques, as bricks have optimal size for human hands and the structure itself doesn’t demand, formwork and complex machinery.


The Smart Masonry is a structural design and a construction method, based on traditional masonry techniques. It deploys the digital optimization to minimize dead-weight of the skeleton and the robotic construction technique to assemble complex geometry. The proposed method is linked to the purpose and place of the building- Makers Center in Berlin. The machinery , which used for the construction of the building, will be preserved as its a core and will drive its the main function. The masonry unit as a discrete element of built objects has something in common with cells, thus it enables to design in a natural way. The structural concept represents one seamless mesh, instead of walls, columns, beams, etc. It is designed as a minimal surface, whose stress-pattern is optimized and materialized as a load-bearing pattern. The construction method mixes advantages of 3dprinting and large prefabricated elements. The robotic construction station with robotic arm manipulators allows to build a complex geometry floor-by-floor. It is compact and labor-effective comparing to traditional methods, and fast comparing to 3d printing. The discretization of the load-bearing skeleton is implemented with unique concrete elements, whose geometrical and material properties are varied gradually regarding local structural demands. ‘‘Foam Casting’’is a new resource-effective technique. It was elaborated in order to produce above mentioned unique elements. «The resistant virtues of the structure that we make depend on their form; it is through their form that they are stable and not because of an awkward accumulation of materials. There is nothing more noble and elegant from an intellectual viewpoint than this; resistance through form.» Eladio Dieste

«You say to a brick, ‘What do you want, brick?’ And brick says to you, ‘I like an arch.’ And you say to brick, ‘Look, I want one, too, but arches are expensive and I can use a concrete lintel.’ And then you say: ‘What do you think of that, brick?’ Brick says: ‘I like an arch.’» Louis Kahn


Thesis / Rethinking craftsmanship Historical tiled structures Guastavino vaults

Dutch Reformed Church of Jsselstein

RETHINKING CRAFTSMANSHIP A ubiquitous globalization, affects architecture in the same way, as many other industries. The unification, specialization, mass-production allowes to increase a speed, quality, quantity and reduces a price of a cunstruction. It renders local features obsolete. It detaches a materiality of the object and a materiality of the nature. The most recent technologies of the design and the fabrication give us an opportunity to make a vernacular architecture competitive again. In this work authors refer to the architecture of Prussian Empire, as the project site is located in Berlin.

Church of Colònia Gßell / Antonio Gaudi

Sagrada Familia / Antonio Gaudi

Kirche zum Heiligen Kreuz, Berlin, DE, 1885-1888


Vaults of Boston Public Library / Rafael Guastavino

GUASTAVINO VAULTS Catalan vaulting is traditional construction originted from the mediterranean countries. Most masterpieces of catalan vaulting, are in the United States. Family by the name of Guastavinos imported it. Rafael Guastavino, born in Valencia in 1842, improved the centuries-old technique and renamed it “cohesive construction”. The substituted bricks with thin tiles and the traditional mortar with rapidly hardening Portland cement, which enabled him to build vaults 3 to 5 times wider than the typical size of traditional timbrel arching.

Thin-vaulted tiled staircase / Rafael Guastavino

The popularity of the timbrel vault was not restricted to its aesthetic appeal. It was simply a very fast and economical method, for two reasons. 1. Much less building material was required. 2. no need for wooden scaffolding. Building a Roman vault demands large amounts of wood, as every arch is required to be supported by a wooden centering for a long period after initial construction. The masonry vault, on the other hand, is self-supporting apart from some temporarily required, light shiftable formwork at the beginning of the job. While constructing a timbrel vault, workers simply stood on the work of the day before (which was two to four inches thick). These huge savings in both building materials and construction equipment meant that the Guastavinos could offer much lower prices than their competitors. Cohesive construction also made buildings fire-proof (an example of this is the Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona, which burned for 11 days during the Spanish Civil War, without collapsing or too much damage). There have been some major city fires during the 19th century (like the great Chicago fire in 1871), and the Guastavinos aptly saw the marketing potential: they soon renamed themselves the «Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company». There were more advantages to the construction. The floors, ceilings, arches and stairs were soundinsulating and resistant to floods, dampness and the lodgement of pests such as rats and roaches. In many ways, timbrel vaulting offered similar properties to reinforced concrete, but without the use of steel.

Load test of Guastavino vault


Thesis / Structural design Scheme of structural research Preconditions, idea Structural design sequence Form-finding / Relaxation+Catenary Pattern-finding / FEM analysis ans Stress pattern





Structural pattern


Catenary + tensile (final)

Optimized paths





Ribs discretization

Optimized structural pattern (final)

Panelization (final)

Nested Catenaries / Defne Sunguroglu Hensel / AHO

Topology optimized concrete / Per Dombernowsky, Asbjørn Søndergaard

Free-form Catalan Thin-tile vault / Philippe Block / ETH

Nested Catenaries 2 / Defne Sunguroglu Hensel / AHO

IDEA The structural system, including the way as it is designed, and built is a principal part of this Thesis project.

result of structural analysis. 4. Optimisation of the load-bearing pattern.

How the orthodox Cartesian grid of the reinforced concrete can be challenged? First of all economical properties shall be relevant. Whatever it is, it should have a relatively competitive price. Second - it has to be compatible with existing technologies. Third, its physical properties must exceed existing analogues. And last but not least, new spatial and visual qualities should emerge as a result. These are main criteria that were taken into consideration. Another important note is desire to rethink traditional, namely stereotomy and masonry vaults, arches, to inform a new system.

Following these four steps several experiments of formfinding and pattern-finding were undertaken. Some of them inspired by nature, some by other experiments or historical precedents. The form-finding is a technique for the structural design based on interrelation of the geometry and forces, where forms articulated not by the imposed design, but by physical laws, that allowed to adjust forms themself to forces. Pioneered during the Gothic period and developed further by Antonio Gaudi, Frei Otto, Heinz Isler and others, this method gives an opportunity for the object of the design to be what it wants to be naturally, substantually, reducing self-weight and enhancing structural capabilities.

The complexity ,however, lies in the fact that normally vaults are effective way to cover single-floor large-span structures, and the current project have to challenge this property and look for the multilevel application. Fruther more, an application of digital design methods usually is following: facades or external shells; pavillions, canopies, domes; analysis or other routine concealed in design. Few rare examples where architectural objects designed totally via a generative way are museums, public centers and so on. In other words, the computational techniques are good to be there, where there are no functions needed, or a functionality is utterly flexible. The housing or offices are still regular concrete skeletons where one can add a fancy parametric envelope. The goal of this project is a regular multistorey building, with the strict programme where a structural skeleton ought to be designed with a mixture of traditional and computational techniques. The desire to fabricate a fragment as a large-scale model also made a considerable influence on the structural system. The large-size stereotomic blocks were choosen to tesselate a geometry, this decission was based on the tests with the physical models. (See chapter “Fabrication“) The structure ought to be informed by two criteria, the natural shape form-finding, and by the pattern of forces that occures in this form. Thus, order for the structural design is following: 1. Form-finding. 2. Structural analysis of the form. 3. Application of load-bearing pattern according to

Not only they where repeated, but extended to the new format. For instance «Optimized Path Systems» invented by Frei Otto that originally was applied on a flat net of threads was tested in 3D. The form-finding is easy to integreate into the computational architectural theory, which is based on the design of the rules and data manipulations, rather than on manipulations of the design itself. Some of the experimens presented in this brochure. The correspondent software for compression structures and optimization (rhino-vault, millipede) was tested.

STEP 1 / Mesh stretched to support points

STEP 2 / Relaxed of the mesh (kangaroo)

STEP 4 / Tesselation

STEP 5 / Thickness analysis (millipede)

STRUCTURAL DESIGN SEQUENCE 1. Mesh stretched to support points. This is step that prefaces dynamic relaxation. As it was mentioned beofre, the goal is creation of the seamless structural net (no columns, no beams). There are two adverse flat meshes, kind of walls. With a certain step their vertexes are shifted to the opposide side. These vertexes will serve as the anchors for the dynamic relaxation. 2. Dynamic relaxation of the mesh. The mesh undergoes dynamic relaxation to adjust given margins with the minimal surface. The form-finding physical experiments with Lycra and Nylon were tested. As a digital tool Kangaroo was used. The optimized surface mesh will be used further as a virtual surface to trace the flow of forces.

STEP 3 / Stress analysis (millipede)

3. Stress analysis. The optimized surfaces form a ÂŤvirtual envelopeÂť for the whole building. The loads and supports are given, materials are assigned. The envelope is analysed with FEM (Finite Element Method) to define vectors of forces for the each mesh cell, that further enables to define stress-pattern for the whole geometry. 4. Tesselation. The regions in between the stresslines are panelized. The edges of the pattern are corresponded to the stress-lines. The majority of the panels are distorted square, there are also triangles and pentagons in the regions where the stress lines with a different directionallity meet. As far as panels contain more than 3 vertexes, and distributed across the double-curved surface, they are not planar. For the fabrication reason all panels have to be planarized. The planarization is based on the middle plane of all vertexes of the panel. 5. Thickness analysis. The thickness of the elements is also based on the FEM analysis of the mesh.

STEP 6 / Application of thickness and offset

6. Application of the thickness and offset. Values are mapped onto the tessellated panels. They are extruded and offset accordingly. Thus, each panel in the structure precisely reacts to the loads and stresses applied on it.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4



The stretching of elastic fabrics such as Spandex, Nylon and Lycra is an effective way to find a minimal surface to span in between given anchor points. The Catenary is useful tool to define compression-only vaults and arches. However they are often used for the form-finding of the single level structures, tensile roofing and concrete shells.

Millipede is a structural analysis and an optimization component for grasshopper. It allows for very fast linear elastic analysis of frame and shell elements in 3d, 2d plate elements for in plane forces, and 3d volumetric elements.

In the Structural Research chapter there are examples of experiments that were undertaken during the work on this project in order to apply these methods on the multileveled threedimensional structure. On figures 1, 2 and 3 is represented the physical model that conceived the final concept. This element is a basic part of structural geometry of the building. To form them, we take one mesh that covers the whole surface of the facade; we make notches near the slab of the each level with the10-meter step; and we move the central point of the each notch towards the opposite facade inside the building. The opposite facade deploys the same system. Unlike on this model, in the final solution number of points to be anchored near the opposite facade are bigger in a row instead of 1 here. In order to provide vertical eqilibrium openings/vortexes are shifted by 5 meters at each level, figure 4. Together, both parts form an integral seamless spatial surface of both vertical and horisontal supports. It is worth to mention that an emulation of a tensile membrane wasn’t enough to form an efficient structure. As the whole geometry ought to be fragmented into the stereotomic units, and built without formworks and scaffolding it was necessary to form a convex ceiling ( similar to the catalan vaults), integrated into the general system. To do so, a gravity force was added to the dynamic relaxation process. This enabled to make a transition from the concave of the vortex near the wall to the convex in the middle of the span.

It uses Finite Element Method for calculations. FEM is a numerical technique for finding approximate solutions. It uses subdivision of a whole problem domain into simpler parts, called finite elements, and variational methods from the calculus of variations to solve the problem by minimizing an associated error function. Millipede includes a surface reparameterization module that enables the generation of patterns aligned to to a vector field over any mesh. This functionality is particularly useful for the creation of principal stress aligned grid shells and reinforcement patterns. This module was used in the current project. See figures on the next page. Figure 1 shows a fragment of the surface that was used to generate the structure. Figure 2 shows a Principal Stress distribution that occures in the surface as a result of the applied loads and self-weight. Figure 3 shows a dominant vector direction of a stress flow. The dominant vector is calculated for each finite element of the system. Figure 4, 5 represents the principal stress lines in two directions emanating from a single point. Stress lines are curves that at each point are tangent to one of the principal stress directions. Figures 2, 3, 4 and 5 are all based on the finite element analysis. It is evident from the figures, that patterns in all figures coinside. Figure 6 shows an optimized stress-pattern, based on the stress lines. It was used as a template for the concrete structural panels.

FIGURE 1 / Relaxed mesh for analysis

FIGURE 2 / Von Mises stresses

FIGURE 3 / Dominant vector of force flow for each element of the mesh

FIGURE 4 / Stress lines in the Y direction

FIGURE 5 / Stress lines in the X direction

FIGURE 6 / Automaticly optimized stress pattern


Thesis / Fabrication Foam-casting 4-axis foam cutter Building units fabrication Building fragment fabrication

Foam rubber cut with hot wire

Foam rubber masonry unit

Unit saturated with cement

Ready-made masonry unit

FOAM CASTING Working with the a free-form geometry is a growing tendency in a contemporary architecture. Capabilities of a design tools and a software are far ahead of a construction industry. What is designed in 21-st century is still constructed by means of the 20-th. A complex geometry is not only a merit of a fashion, it can also improve a structural and climatic performance, reduce a self-weight. Learning from a nature architects add natural complexity to their products. But in nature a geometry is free and material is precious, it turns out that on a construction site we do the opposite way - investing extra materials and extra energy to create a geometry. Therefore, a solution for an energy efficient production of customized elements is an intriguing task. There are numerous techniques to produce non-standard panels. The CNC-milling, produces a lot of waste, if an unit is not flat it is slow as well. The 3D-printing is relatively slow. The casting - laborious, and formworks consumes a lot of material. Few interesting experemental techniques were found. 1. «The wax-formwork technology», developed under the leadership of Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler at ETH. It deploys re-usable and digitally-fabricated (with robotic arm) wax formworks to cast non-repetitive free-form concrete elements. After the concrete is casted, the wax is grinded to be used again. Thus technology enables to reduce drastically consumption of a material. 2. C.A.S.T. at the University of Manitoba are exeperements with «fabric casting». Within this method, concrete is casted in the formwork made of a fabric. Beside economical benefits, this technique is also effective for form-finding, as it tolerates selfadjustment. In scope of this project, new, fast and relatively simple technique for production of the non-repetetive concrete elements was developed. The schematic sequence is shown in the figure on the left.

Step 1. To cut out the «positive» casting form it implements the 4-axis hot wire styrocutter (can be replaced with an robotic arm + hot-wire extention). This solution enables a fast production of complex geometries with developable surfaces. We invented to replace a styrofoam with a rubberfoam. More on this topic on the next page. Step 2. The produced unit is dipped into the concrete solution directly. Step 3.The dipped and saturated with concrete unit is harde-ned. Due to the scarce recources in this particular project tiles were cut manually, with the convinient styrocutter and paper templates. This has imposed a lot of constraints. Possible shape options were only flat polygons with a pependicular extrusion. However, potential of the technique was confirmed. The authors convinced, that after respective improvements and verifications invented technique can be implemented industrially, to satisfy various tasks beyond this project. E.G., it wasn’t possible to find sufficient amount of a rubber foam with tightly packed large pores. This is an important property for an absorbability. This material has yet to be developed. A control over porosity during production of the rubber foam sheets themselves is crusial and could expand a performance of the final product. A variability of porosity along the transversal section is capable to change a property of the concrete from structural-to-insulating in the single unit. A differentiation of the porosity respective to forces distribution (in a fashion of bones) gives one more opportunity to reduce selfweight and a material consumprion. The authors assume, that the proposed technique exceeds existing methods in a speed, energy and material efficiency.

Figure 2

4-AXIS FOAM CUTTER An initial idea for a digital fabrication was to use robotic arm. Since the robotic arm wasn’t available, we looked for an alternative, cheap replacement of this facility, that could be able to do the same job - to cut out unique elements with developable surfaces of a rubber foam.

Figure 1

Figure 3

Figure 4

First idea was to build our own tool (figure 1). It has 3 degrees of freedom. The upper craddle is actuated with an electric motor and a tooth gear, it moves the cutting an appliance along the Y-axis. On its end there is a frame with a hot wire, that moves along Z-axis. For the X-axis there is a rotating table ona base frame. The rubber foam blank block should be installed on this table. This device is feasible, but wasn’t built, because existing analogue was found at Fakultät Gestaltung in Universität der Künste Berlin (figure 2,3). A distinctive feature of this machine comparing to our design is additional 4-th axis. Along Z-axis the hot wire moves on two pillars with a tooth drive. Each of the pillar is able to move independently, that enhances capabilities to cut complex geometries. Five tests were made on this machine. Its were lead by the staff of the faculty. Several constrains regarding the material and the machine were discovered. 1. The speed of cutting: if it is too slow - the material melts creating the sticky substance that hinders the proces, if it is too fast - wire collapses. 2. The voltage demands fine tune. Too high speed leads to collapse of the wire, too low leads to «loops» when there is not enough of time to finish one side till the end but the new direction is already actuated. It creates convexed and concaved edges. 3. The material of the wire is crucial. 4. There were several malfunctions of the software, that disabled an independent work of vertical pillars. 5. The most important, is the way how the software reads the digital model. It makes several section throughout the model, that cannot warant precise replication of the shape. In general it is the promising yet underdeveloped technology. There wasn’t enough time to fix all the bugs within the project. That is why for the fabrication of 1:10 fragment it was decided to use the templates and a manual styrocutter to cut out all of the fragments by hand. However, as a concept for the automated construction robotic arm was preserved. It has more potential, and was tested in scope of several academic projects (figure 4).

1. As a basis of the solution the pure Portland cement was used. Tests revealed that mixtures filled with a sand and other additions doesn’t work, because materials with larger fractions are unable to get into the rubber foam. The lower content of the Portland cement makes the final product brittle.

2. The water-cement ratio was also changed from a convenient 3:1 to about 3:2. The tests proved that a normal mixture is too viscous to impregnate a rubber foam over the entire depth. Despite that the normally higher content of water weakens the concrete in this case it gave a better result.

5. The rubber foam shape must be condensed and released slowly several times, to insure even saturation.

6. The seam (in the corner) has brought some troubles. It is better to have homogeneous units.


3. The crucial issue of the rubber foam is fraction of the pores. We had no choise but to use the material with small pores. Bigger pores would produce more durable elements. A shape of the elements also important. The closer to the equilateral figure with a proportional thickness it is, the less distortion occurs after solidification.

6. The surplus of the solution should be removed with a filling knife

4. Dipping.

7. The saturated elements are sorted onto the flat surface. To avoid distortions, as we understood later it, is better to verify its with the templates immediately. However during this fabrication we used only temporary flags. As a result about 15% of the elements have considerably lost their shape.

Hardening of masonry units

Hardening of masonry units


Hardening of masonry units

Hardened masonry unit

9. The distorted elements are processed with a grinder.

8. The masonry units are laid out on the template, to define distorted elements. This step and step 9, 11 are consequences of the unit fabrication flaws.

10. The masonry units are connected with the hot glue gun. To define position of the units it was necessary to use the cardboard formworks as a guidelines.

11. The seams larger than 3 millimeters are filled with a mortar.


Assembled first floor

Digital model


Fabricated model / scale 1:10




Thesis / Automated construction Preconditions, idea Robotic arms description Robotic station

1. D-SHAPE / Enrico Dini

2. CONTOUR CRAFTING / Behrokh Khoshnevis

disadvantages: -redundant material -objet should be smaller than printer -slow

disadvantages: -restricted geometry -relatively slow

3. ROBOTIC CLADDING / ROB, Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler, ETH, CH, 2009

4. MX3D METAL PRINTING / Joris Laarman Studio

disadvantages: -redundant material -2 degrees of freedom for each unit -restricted operational space

disadvantages: -relatively slow

PRECONDITIONS, IDEA To implepent a quality and speed of mass-production on the construction site, this idea puzzles an architects since the end of XIX century. It has got numerous developments, most of which were done in second half of XX century. A concept of construction ,with large prefabricated units, dominated in the architecture during this period . In some refined form, it exists nowadays. During the last decade a rapid development of the numerically controlled devices and a computational software brought a new breath into the topic. The robotic construction became more feasible with completely customized product as an output. On the right there are four technologies which are worth to mention in scope of robotic construction. Particularly interesting is a robotic cladding by Fabio Gramazio & Mattias Kohler, because it is already tested on the construction of the real buildings. However an application of the robotic cladding was constrained by wall panels, decorative figures. Joris Laarman bureau looks for the opportunities to make a 3d printing an industrially effective technology. Their rescent project of the 3d printed metal bridge in Amsterdam precisely resembles the current project. According to their idea wheeled arm-robot should move on the top of the brige, printing it and movig forwards on what was just printed. The current project is looking for a reasonable and feasible application of the robotics in a construction industry, considering pros and cons of the abovementioned technologies. The optimal mix of the robotic construction with a traditional technique is to be defined. The complexity of the architectural design itself is deliberately ceased to the relatively simple solution. The project is focused on an effective application of the technology today, therefore an economy, speed and feasibility dominates over the design. Authors believe that the proposed technique is effective as it allows to reduce a formwork, scaffolding, hand labour and safety expences. It also draws unnecessary cranes and other reinforced concrete - related processes, e.g. intricate delivery and underpour routine. A ceased labour is valuable, as in developed countries it is utterly expencive. This restriction in Switzerland for instance leads to the total dependance on a prefab concrete and consiquentally, to the limitation of the design options. Besides it gives new aesthetics and new quality of space, that can be developed more in further projects.

ROBOTIC ARMS DESCRIPTION KR 30 L16-2 / To be used for the hot wire cutting There are low-payload applications in which the reach is a decisive factor. For such cases KUKA has the L models KR 16 L62, with a reach of up to 1.9 m, and KR 30 L16-2 with a reach of up to 3.1 m. Loads Payload 16 kg Supplementary payload

45 kg

Working envelope Max. reach 3102 mm Other data and variants Number of axes 6 Weight 700 kg Mounting positions

Floor, ceiling

KR 360 FORTEC / To be used for the construction Robot of the heavy-duty category, it offers a significantly large work envelope and a considerable length of the reference load center distances. Maximal weight of the concrete element to be lifted is about 300 kg, thus KR 360 meets th requirements. Payload 360 kg Supplementary payload

50 kg

Working envelope Max. reach 2826 mm Other data and variants Number of axes 6 Repeatability Âą0,08 mm Weight 2385 kg Mounting positions Floor, ceiling*

380 mm

498 mm

Robotic station Hood

Rail (temporary) Racks with hardening elements

Empty racks

Any floor under construction

Empty tray

Rack with soaked elements

Bracket block Ground floor

Hot-wire foam cutter Draft rubber foam

Impregnated element

Concrete tank

Revolving table

ROBOTIC STATION The proposed technique consists of two larger parts, that function together: a fabrication module, that produces stereotomic blocks and a construction module, that assembles the structure.

Thus, the proposed technique unites advantage of FDM 3D-printing (free-form geometries, automation, self-support) and a tradi tional construction with large-scale prefab units (speed)

The fabrication module is based on the ground floor. Blank units of foam-rubber and concrete ingredients are delivered to the place.

The advantages of the proposed scheme are following:

Step 1. Foam rubber forms for casting are cut out by the robotic arm manipulator with a hot wire extention and a revolving table. Step 2. Ready-made cast forms are saturated in the concrete mix with a hydraulic press. Step 3. Forms impregnated with the concrete solution are hardened. Step 4. Hardened units are stored in the special racks. At the step 4 the fabrication process is over. A construction sequence commences. A construction module is moving on the rails, that also conduct electricity to the module. A chassis represents a gantry-like structure. Each of four supports of the gantry has the rollers with electric motors. Supports and upper rail are extendable, so the workspace is variable. Two robotic arm manipulators with a grabber attachment are installed on the bottom of the upper rail. On the both ends of the beam there are hoist and jack to pull and hold racks with the masonry units. Step 5. Racks with masonry units are lifted on their place at the construction module, replacing empty racks. Step 6. The arm manipulator takes a concrete block and places it onto the assigned place. Blocks are laid one by one from the bottom to the top, shaping an arch. It is a dry process, minimal amount of a hot glue is used instead the mortar. No formwork required - each block has unique design required for its certain place. No scaffolding required either, as block holds on the neighborhood blocks during contruction. Two robotic arms work simultaneously. Step 7. When the single-layer arch is done, construction module moves forward to make the next one, moving rails forwards Step 8. When first floor is done the station is elevated on the top of it, to assemble new one, and cycle repeats. This process continues until the skeleton of the building is assembled. HVAC, elevators, glazing, etc. installed in a traditional way.

1. Avoidance of scaffolding, formwork and a considerable reduction of labour 2. Implementation of free-form geometries. 3. High-speed 4. Avoidance of large-scale machinery like cranes, concrete pumpers.

ROBOTIC CONSTRUCTION The robotic station assembles the whole building level by level, similarly to the 3D printing but in a larger scale. The rails of the gantry installed along the outer and inner contours of the building. Thus a working area of the robotic arms spans between those two rails. The robotic station lays down concrete blocks arch by arch forming the body of the level. It moves along the perimeter of the building until the front line will hit the first built arch. This process is in a way similar to the tunnel construction. During this horizontal phase the station moves its rails forward automatically, removing ahead ones that left behind. When one level is done station moves on to the top of it and cycle repeats. The elevator and piping shafts, stairwells of the building are built with a reinforced concrete.


Project / Architectural proposal Makers phenomen Creative environment in Berlin Location Production process Volumetry Functions Forces distribution and genesis of the structure Robotic constrution Masterplan description Plan of the ground floor / Plan of the 4-th floor Properties of the studios / Section 2-2 Friedrichstrasse Facade Section 1-1 Detail and services Renders

MAKERS PHENOMEN A rapid development of the infromation technologies and technologies themselves have changed distribution of the knowledge and facilities. Those things that 15 years ago were available only to the powerful corporations are now on the open market, and available for everyone. The Maker culture is based on informal communication, abscence of strong hierarchy, knowledge-sharing, and selfmotivation. As Wikipedia suggests: «Community interaction and knowledge sharing are often mediated through networked technologies, with websites and social media tools forming the basis of knowledge repositories and a central channel for information sharing and exchange of ideas, and focused through social meetings in shared spaces such as hackspaces.» This emerging culture is not only a new extension of the traditional DIY, potentially it can change the way we consume and produce. A maker culture encourages novel applications of technologies, and an exploration of intersections between traditionally separate domains and ways of working including design, electronics, metal-working, carpentry, and computer programming. Those who involved in such processes can form teams, for certain projects and initiate startups, that also often supported by crowd-funding. Some of them are proofed to be successfull. An attention of politicians is a signal that proves importance of making. At 2013’s, Barack Obama on his «State of the Union Address» proclaimed: « ...Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns. So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of hightech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of fifteen of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is Made in America.»

Fab-Lab / Description from the official website: ÂŤWe are open digital fabrication studio where you can learn how to use 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC Routers, design software and electronics to make (almost) anything you want. We are part of the international Fab Lab network and offer access to a professional DIY studio and a great community of makers.Âť Members: Founded: 2014


Betahaus / Description from the official website: We are the people, working in different kind of disciplines, in Entrepreneurial Affairs, Art&Design, Consultancy, Development and Code, DIY and Media. Betahaus is a platform which meets the requirements of independent creative professionals and knowledge workers, and expands their opportunities. In a mixture of relaxed coffee house atmosphere and concentrated working environment we create room between work and privacy in which innovation and creativity is fostered. Members: Founded: 2009 source:

C-base / Description from the Wikipedia: C-base is a non-profit association of about 515 members located in Berlin, Germany. The purpose of this association is to increase knowledge and skills pertaining to computer software, hardware and data networks. The association is engaged in numerous related activities. Members: 515 Founded: 1995


CREATIVE EVIRONMENT IN BERLIN Berlin is not aside in this processes. However, with it spirit of art, creationism, advanced technologies and diverse international culture, Berlin has a chance to enhance its position and to be a leading EU Capital in ÂŤinnovation via makingÂť. Nowadays there are a bunch of crowd-based enterprises scattered across the city, dedicated to Design, Art, Making, Electronics, Robotics, and IT. Following, is description of selected items:

BBK werkstatt / photo: dmitry zhuikov

BBK Kulturwerk / Description from the official website: The goal of bbk berlins is to create a framework of conditions for all artists, making it possible to work independently of obligations to adapt or commercialize and without restrictions on artistic freedom. In the interests of artists, bbk berlins is committed to transparency and having a say on committees that make decisions on art. Members: 2000 Founded: 1950

Fab-Lab, (making) BBK Kulturwerk (art, design) Betahaus (IT, design) C-base (IT, electronics, Robotics, Communication) ARFA (hackerspace) The idea of the project is to mix all facilities of this kind under the one roof, and thus to give a new value to all of them. Settled next to each other, they will give life to the new projects, products of new interdisciplinary fusions. This new space should be an incubator for the new ideas, solutions, diverse public activities and events. The heart of the building is a workshop island, that incorporate all sorts of traditional workshops, mixed with robotic workshops. Robotics can be attached to any process in the workshops, thus giving opportunity to revolutionize traditional crafts.

nowadays / view from Friedrichstrasse

LOCATION A location of the site and artistic spirit of the neighborhood around its inform an architectural design. The project site is a void space on the Friedrichstrasse, Berlin. It served as a park of sculptures for the closed few years ago Tacheles Kunsthaus. The Tacheles Kunsthaus was an art center, a large (9,000 m2) building on Oranienburger Strasse in the Mitte neighborhood. The building housed an artist collective. It was a house of an art community and a heart of the Mitte’s Art environment.

1990’s / photo of Tacheles Art Center, inner yard

Tacheles Kunsthaus had occupied the leftovers of the building originally called «Friedrichsstadtpassagen», it was built as a department store in the Jewish quarter, next to the synagogue. This building had a large passage connecting Friedrichstrasse and Oranierburgerstrasse. It was later partially demolished. After the Berlin Wall had come down, it was taken over by artists, who called it Tacheles, Yiddish for «straight talking.» The building contained studios and workshops, a nightclub, and a cinema. Outside, the garden featured an open air exhibition of metal sculptures as well as galleries and studios for sculptors and painters. A booming real estate market squeezed out this community out of this place. Nevertheless, quarters adjacent to this area are full of galleries, museums, ateliers and other creative places.

nowadays / map with project site

1954 / map with old Friedrichstrassenpassage

3D printing


paint sculptors


robotic arms










3D scaning





Business model scheme


BUSINESS MODEL The object of a design in the current project is a big public domain, a building that gathers all kind of existing and new manufacturing facilities under the one roof. It should also house ateliers and offices for artists, makers, designers, architects and other creative proffessions. Residents of the community share manufacturing and other facilities (workshops), that otherwise would be too expensive to have for a small office, or a single person. They also share public premises, like the conference rooms, kitchens, reception, lockers etc. The workshops constitute a functional and spatial core of the building. All kind of workshops that will be there listed in the scheme on the left. Traditional workshops will be accompanied by the departments dedicated to the computational fabrication and numeric control devices (arm-manipulator, 3D-printers, CNC Machines, etc.) These departments are flexible to join traditional workshop processes, in order to facilitate experiments, technological fusions and emergence of new techniques. A supply of the raw materials and components for the production includes not only common purchase of the new components, but also supplied partially by means of the recycling. Particularly for the electronics it is meaningful solution. It is assumed that once per months/fortnight municipal truck will deliver thrown out electronic devices, furniture, clothes and so on. Ideas or stuff produced in the «maker center» can be exhibited and sold in the gallery, shops, or open market, that is also part of the arrangement. It is worth to mention, that the «maker center» is a commercially-oriented enterprise that supports people who want to produce meaningful and valuable products. It is an incubator of the new ideas, new products. Therefore it is assumed to house only small enterprises, not larger than say 10 persons. If a company grown too big, it is able to move out. It is important to have all the facilities and public premises in the one place. They should promote a communication, selfeducation, competitivness, and collaboration. All together, they will enhance capabilities of each other and of the community that they are serving.

manufactured parts

city waste

Production process



waste depot

city recycling







A volume of the building is arranged in a cubic shape. An entrance to the courtyard is designed in a fashion of a big gap in between building and the adjacent blind wall. The building has better proportions, but it breaks the facade line. Workshops and labs located in the core of the building . In this option floor area of the workshops is not sufficient. Ateliers are located around the workshops forming radial circulation.

An approach to the volume formation is following: - to take grid system geometrical base that enables acces of the daylight - to create hierarchy of the courtyards for the different users - allocate workshop facilities in the core of the volume and ateliers around it. disadvantages: The grid proportion and openings in the facade are not perfect. It evokes large amount of small areas.

selected option

VOLUME DESCRIPTION The final volumetric solution is informed by the urban properties, functional requirements and properties of the structural system. An external outline of the volume is a simple parallelepiped that encloses the gap between two neighbourhood blocks, in order to restore integrity of the urban tissue. It has the similar height and scale. Inside the building there are two atriums, one public (on the left) and one private (on the right). The public atrium connects street with backyard of the Tacheles center. The atriums formed by the volumetric external ring, that surrounds central volume. A transversal section depth of this ring is 10m that warrants access of the daylight across the full depth from both external and internal sides. Both atriums are covered with lightweight glass roofs, but public atrium has a large openings on the street level. PROGRAMME Functionally the building is organized around the workshops.(see figure 1 on the next page). Workshops are primary feature of the maker center, and located in the central block inside the building. They are distributed on the several floors and form «workshop island». There are several workshops dedicated to the traditional crafts + robotic labs attached to each of them. Not only a straight-forward functional logic is important, but also a way it affects communication of the community members. «Workshop island» is an element that is going to be used by all residents of the building, it is considered as a starter of the public life and a communication between the inhabitants. Around the workshops island there is a belt of a horizontal circulation, and ateliers/offices attached to it along the longitudial facades. Along the shorter sides that attached to the firewalls of neighbourhood buildings there are a vertical core and service facilities on the right; and a gallery with its own vertical communication on the left side. On the first two floors there are shops, shop-ateliers, cafe, delivery depot and entrance to the gallery. The public atrium and an adjacent territory can be used as an exibition space, street market, space for performances, etc.

workshops ateliers public gallery services circulation shops

Figure 1 / Programme scheme




paint workshop metal


wooden robotic workshop

storage electronic workshop



Figure 2 / Adjacency scheme

Figure 1 / Dynamically relaxed surfaces


Figure 2 / Stress pattern

MASTERPLAN DESCRIPTION The project solution provides an integration of the two neighborhood building blocks with the new building, accordingly to historic proportions of the urban tissue and buildings. The main public entrance into the proposed complex is located at the left side of the Friedrichstrasse facade. This large opening connects the gallery entrance, public atrium with its functions (on the left), shops, and further access to the public backyard park. The private atrium (on the right) can be accessed via the smaller entrance on the left side or via the public atrium. The back entrance located at the park side. Cargo vehicles are able to access it via the passage connected to the Johannisstrasse. A Back yard park is a multifunctional space, that beside recreational purpose can also host exhibition events, street fairs, concerts and performances. Its main path connects the public atrium and Kunsthaus Tacheles, and thereby it reestablishes link between Friedrichstrasse and Oranienburgerstrasse that had been lost with demolition of the Friedrichstrassenpassage.

Ground floor plan

4th floor plan

Offices and ateliers / longitudinal section

PROPERTIES OF THE STUDIOS A proposed spatial system allows a flexible alteration of the studio configuration and their number. Partitions can be moved, removed or added. There are also double-height spaces distributed in a chequerwise order, that may be incorporated in the modulation process. They can be overlaid, or became a part of other studio, thus in certain cases one studio can occupy space disposed on the three floors. Double-height spaces are essential for the offices that have to work with the large objects. Corridors allocated on the each second floor, to ensure a delivery of the large cargos to each atelier. The interim floors can be accessed via local small staircases.

Variability of the studios, offices and ateliers.


Longitudinal section

DETAIL AND SERVICES. The structural system was designed considering its integration with functions, service outfits and an envelope. It is proposed, that HVAC and other piplines, wiring, are ought to be laid below the horizontal concrete grid. The floor is made of the concrete cells that installed onto the structural grid. The glazing system of the facade is hanged outside, with distance of 1 meter from the concrete grid. Horizontal profiles with attached glass panels are fixed to the beams. Beams are laid on the horizontal part of the concrete grid. In between concrete grid and glazing there are walkway for the facade servicing and cleaning. Inner corridors are supported with bracket-like twists of the concrete grid.


Research / Structural form-finding Venation Fabrication test Catenary Dynamic relaxation Optimized paths Compression only vault

Leaf venation

Illustration of the algorithm for generating open venation patterns

Nervous System. Hyphae - growth process diagram in 2D

Voronoi groups. grasshopper

Closest point algorithm in processing

VENATION Venation is the distribution or arrangement of a system of veins, as in an insect’s wing or a leaf blade. Patterns of venation in insect wings are often used to identify and differentiate species. In angiosperm plants, the venation of eudicot and magnoliid leaves is generally netted or reticulate, with smaller veins branching out from larger ones in a pinnate or palmate pattern, while that of monocots is parallel, with many veins of similar size running parallel to each other along the length of the plant part. These parallel veins are connected to each other by much smaller cross veins. (dictionary defenition). VENATION ALGORYTHM The execution of the algorithm for generating open venation patterns is illustrated in Figure X It was started at the stage when the vein system consists of three nodes (black disks with white centers) and there are four auxin sources (red disks) (a). First, each source is associated with the vein node that is closest to it (b, red lines); this establishes the set of sources that influences each node. The normalized vectors from each vein node to each source that influences it are then found (c, black arrows). These vectors are added and their sum normalized again (d, violet arrows), providing the basis for locating new vein nodes (d, violet circles). The new nodes are incorporated into the venation, in this case extending the midvein and initiating a lateral secondary vein (e).

Closest point algorithm in grasshopper and geometry wrapper.

Attempts to generate venation-like structural pattern based on stress-points density.

The neighborhoods of sources (red circles) are now tested for the inclusion of (the centers of) vein nodes (f). The neighborhoods of the two leftmost sources have been penetrated by the veins, as indicated by the bolder representation of the corresponding circles. The affected sources are removed from the set of sources (g). The leaf then grows (h); in this example we have assumed marginal growth, so the existing sources and vein nodes are not moved. The candidate new sources are now randomly placed within the expanded blade (i). Their neighborhoods, indicated by dashed circles, are checked for the inclusion of (the centers of) previously placed vein nodes and sources. The only candidate source with an empty neighborhood is incorporated into the set of sources (j) and the vein nodes closest to these sources are identified (k). This is the beginning of the next iteration of the algorithm execution, with stages (j) and (k) corresponding to the stages (a) and (b) from the previous iteration. Note that the top and the right source jointly influence the top vein node in Figure Xb, but the same two sources influence different vein nodes in Figure Xk. Such splits in the set of sources, which at some stage influence the same vein node, but later affect different points, are an essential feature of the algorithm: they lead to the emergence of branches even if the set of sources is fixed.

FABRICATION TEST Fabrication test carried out in order to check venationlike structural pattern. In this proposal there was three types of elements. Branches (straight long elements), joints in between long elements (small polyhedral units). Abovementioned two are foam casted. Third type are clay brics to form catalan vaults on the ceiling.

Heinz Isler explains the hanging membrane ideamodels

GaudĂ­ /sagrada familia /catenary model/

CATENARY Catenary is the curve assumed approximately by a heavy uniform cord or chain hanging freely from two points not in the same vertical line. Equation: y = k cosh (x/k). When suspended under its own weight, a flexible chain forms a catenary curve that is subject to only tensile forces. When this curve is inverted, the form is subjected to only compression forces REFERENCES In the 1670s, British inventor, philosopher and architect Robert Hooke discovered that this catenary shape was the ideal form of an arch. In the late 1800s, Spanish architect Antonio Gaudy used this principle when he designed structures (pic. sagrada familia models)/ . For his form-finding technique, the architect loaded hanging strings or chains with weights to create a series of intersecting curves. After he was satisfied with the form, Gaudy draped cloth around the model, took a picture, and turned the print upside down to use as the basis for his vaulted form.

Frei Otto / Suspended chains

Isler’s form-finding method of the reversed hanging cloth was discovered serendipitously in the summer of 1955. On a building site he saw a piece of wet burlap draped over a mesh of steel bars. He noticed that within one square opening, the burlap hung in a domelike shape under its own weight. Isler concluded that the cloth carried itself in pure tension, so that when it was reversed it would become a form in pure compression.A piece of cloth that is hung from several fixed points will create an ideal form that is completely in tension. If the shape is “frozen” and flipped, the resulting shell should be in complete compression, which is convenient for concrete structures since concrete performs well in compression but poorly in tension. The main difference between the work of Gaudí and Isler is that the Spanish architect found his form through a network of two-dimensional catenary shapes while the Swiss engineer only used one hanging element (a piece of fabric) to determine the ideal form of his structure.

EXPEREMENT DESCRIPTION It was studied the possibilities of gravity application on the suspended fabric

catenary / multilayered vaults

catenary / random multilayered threads

catenary / multilayered vaults

catenary / multilayered vaults

catenary / 4-part vault / fabric + threads

catenary rendered in brick / kangaroo

catenary / 4-part vault / fabric + threads

catenary / multilayered vaults

DYNAMIC RELAXATION Experiments to define multileveled habitable structures with tensile form-finding.

OPTIMIZED PATHS The analogue model finds the minimal path system, that is, the system connects a distributed set of given points, thus the overall length of the path system is minimised. Each point is reached but there is a considerable imposition of detours between some pairs of points. The system is a tree (branching system) without any redundant connections. Depending on the adjustable parameter of the thread’s sur-length, the apparatus – through the fusion of threads – computes a solution that significantly reduces the overall length of the path system while maintaining a low average detour factor. (Patrik Schumacher, London 2008) WOOLY PATH EXPEREMENTS On the left side there are digital models of woolly-path experiments represent in attempt to define multileveled structure supported by optimized structural network.

Marek Kolodziejczyk, Wool-thread model to compute optimised detour path networks. ILEK, Stuttgart, 1991

David Reeves/ Wooly Paths definition

Rhino vault / fabrication

Rhino vault/ fabrication

Rhino vault / fabrication

RHINO VAULT. BLOCK RESEARCH GROUP The Rhinoceros 速 Plug-In RhinoVAULT emerged from research on structural form finding using the Thrust Network Analysis (TNA) approach to intuitively create and explore compression-only structures.

Rhino vault / fabrication

Using reciprocal diagrams, RhinoVAULT provides an intuitive, fast funicular form-finding method, adopting the same advantages of techniques such as Graphic Statics, but offering a viable extension to fully three-dimensional problems. Our goal is to share key aspects of our research in a comprehensible and transparent setup to let you not only create beautiful shapes but also to give you an understanding of the underlying structural principles. RHINO VAULT FABRICATION It was tested possibilities of rhino vault analysis on the fabricated model, which was generated by using this plugin for Rhino. It was discovered that pattern of the geometry is not coincide with forces pattern. Very tiny elements appeared. Big amount of joints do not corresponds to the pattern of forces distribution .

Rhino vault / digital model

BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. “Versatility and Vicissitude” / Michael Hensel, Achim Menges/ AD 2008 2. “Prototyping architecture” / Michael Stacey / 2013 3. “Modeling and visualization of leaf venation patterns“ / Adam Runions, Martin Fuhrer, Brendan Lane, Pavol Federl, Anne-Ga¨elle Rolland-Lagan, Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz / University of Calgary, 2004 4. “Biomimetics in architecture” / Petra Gruber /Springler, 2011 5. “Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy ” / Manuel De Landa / Continuum, 2002 6. “Finding Form” / Frei Otto, Bodo Rasch / 1995, Edition 2001 7. “The 4-dimensional masonry construction” / Lara K. Davis / MIT, 2010 8. “C.A.S.T.”, Mark West / University of Manitoba, 2011 9. “Efficient and expressive thin-tile vaulting using cardboard formwork“ / Philippe Block, Matthias Rippmann, Tom Pawlofsky, Lara K. Davis / ETH, 20?? 10.“Informal” / Cecil Balmond / Prestel, 2007 11. “Pretention brick assemblies” / Defne Sunguroglu Hensel / 2008 12. S,M,L,XL / Rem Koolhaas 13. “How Buildings Learn” / Stewart Brand 14. “Modeling and visualization of leaf venation patterns” Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary 15. “Parametricism - A New Global Style for Architecture and Urban Design“ / Patrik Schumacher, London 2008

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