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ETAFOR(M) Research Cluster 4, 2016-2017 M.Arch Architectural Design UCL, The Bartlett School of Architecture


RESEARCH CLUSTER 4, GILLES RETSIN, MANUEL JIMENEZ, VICENTE SOLER MetaFor(M):: Vallie Alamanou, Ahmad Eltoutngi, Miguel Garcia, Virginie Guillaume.

The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL


01 INTRODUCTION

05 COMPUTATION

1.1. Overview

5.1. Computation

1.1.1 Project Overview

1.2. Research Context

1.2.1. Questioning 3D Metal printing 1.2.2. Comparison with traditional methods 1.2.3. Proceeding Research and Development 1.2.4. Rethinking discrete assembly

02 DESIGN 2.1. Design I

2.1.1.3D Spatial Lines 2.1.2. Spatial Lines. Combiantorics 2.1.3. Combinatorics 2.1.4. Large Scale Aggregation

2.2. Design II

2.2.1. Design Adaptation to Material Research 2.2.2. Design of two elements 2.2.3. Combinatorics of Face Types 2.2.4. Combinatorics of Elements 2.2.5. Building Blocks

06 PROTOTYPES 6.1. Prototype I

3.1. Fabrication

3.1.1. Material Research 3.1.2. Analog Bending 3.1.3. Digital Bending 3.1.4. Tools Assembly

04 AUTOMATION 4.1. Robot Fabrication

6.1.1. Research Context 6.1.2. Automation of Assembly v.01 6.1.3. Automation of Assembly v.02 6.1.4. Automation of Assembly v.03 6.1.5. End Effector and Set up 6.1.6. Robot Choreography

6.1.1. Design and Fabrication Process

6.2. Prototype II

6.2.1. Design and Fabrication Process

6.3. Prototype III

03 FABRICATION

5.1.1. Stress Analysis 2D 5.1.2. Stress Lines 5.1.3. Stress Analysis 3D 5.1.4. Connections Rules. Blue Line 5.1.5. Catalog of Connections 5.1.6. Computing Behaviours of the Elements I 5.1.7. Connections Rules. Stickers 5.1.8. Computing Behavioursof the Elements II 5.1.9. Catalog 5.1.10. Large Scale Aggregation 5.1.11. Structural Mereology 5.1.12. Structural Combinatiorics 5.1.13. B.E.S.O Optimization 5.1.14. Large Scale Iterations

6.3.1. Design and Fabrication Process

07 ARCHITECTURAL SPECULATION 7.1. Architectural Development

7.1.1. Design Process 7.1.2. Iterarion 01 7.1.3. Iterarion 02 7.1.4. Iterarion 03 7.1.5. Iterarion 04 7.1.6. Iterarion 05 7.1.7. Iterarion 05. Assembly Process

08 PANELLING SYSTEM 8.1. Panelling System

81.1. Tile Design 81.2. Attachment to the Unit. Typologies


01

Introduction

Context and thesis


Overview

Project Overview

The research is based in the automation of steel structures assembly. Since the project is part of a discrete design agenda, it is focused in the assembly of inexpensive, standardized and discrete units. In this case, they units are composed of steel bars of two different cross sections, that are fabricated in a serialised way, with specific bends and holes in limited places. The larger aggregation is organised in a building block logic, with predefined rules and limited connections, where the pieces’ geometry defines the course for the aggregation. The building block generates linear aggregations into surfaces, but can also be combined three dimensionally to form wider volumes. The components’ organisation creates patterns and densities enlightening the structural intensities that can be assembled without the need of managing several unique mass customized pieces. Instead, the elements are created through the addition of several steel bars assembled using automatic riveting with robots.

Steel Rods Cut in 500, 1000 and 1200 mm

Two Sections Flat (16x3mm) and Square (16mm)

Computation Stress Lines Growth following stress lines

The outcome of this approach is an intricate heterogeneous whole, with indeterminate differentiated spaces that can be recombined into a large number of different configurations. The intriguing entity has imprecise boundaries so that it can always be expanded with the addition of more blocks. The aesthetic outcome can be described as a hairy fibre structure with fuzzy borders, a steel cloud, that is characterised at the same time by hierarchy between the elements.

Fully Automated Fiber Steel Structure Assembly Multi-scale aggregation

The design process performs in a unified way towards defined objectives. The elements are a product of design, based on connection possibilities, rotation capabilities and structural characteristics. The way the units aggregate, on the other hand, is partially driven by a process of pre-established rules through algorithmic logic, namely the direction of the unit is oriented respectively with the vectors obtained through the traces of stress cloud, nevertheless, they can be set to meet specific goals, such as creating something functional and spatial.

Hierarchically and Scalable Material Pieces with Different Behaviours On Site Robotically Automated Fiber Steel Structures Computation and Structural Mereology

8

Combinatorial Rules Continuous Blue Line Stacking Stickers


90m3

nufacturer

Discrete Factory

Shipping Transported to the site Where discrete

ehouse

Shipping

Logistics Efficiency

Shipping

facturer

Discrete Factory

ouse

Where discrete elements Automation of the fabrication and assembly are created Assembly of Elements 2 Elements

Automated Riveting Rivet gun

Shipping

Disassemblage and reconfiguration

Shipping for fabrication

ory

srehouse are created

Serialized Bends Lines with 45ยบ bendings

Reassemblage On Site

Fabrica Shipping

Flexible and configurable Architecture

Discrete Factory On Site

anufacturer

On Site

Fabrication and assemblage

Fabrication and assemblage

Disassemblage

Shipping for fabrication Shipping and shipping

Disassemblage and reconfiguration Other Discrete Factories and On Site Fabrication and assemblage

Reversible

Reassembla

Flexible and configu

Robotically Disassembled on Site Taking out the rivets

Reduction of Material Waste

Discrete Factory On Site

ufacturer

Fabrication and assemblage

house

mblage figuration

On Site

Robotically Assembled on Site

Bending andand riveting Fabrication assemblage

elements are created

Reassemblage On Site

Flexible and configurable Architecture Disassemblage and shipping

Reversible

9

Other Discrete Fac

Fabrication an


Research Context

Questioning 3D Metal printing

MetaFor(M) RC4 Bartlett 2017

As the project tries to materialize lines in space, the research comparison needs to be done with other projects that deal with steel structures. Most of their research focuses on 3D printing steel, because steel is a structural material that can be used for bridging great spans, visually light and cost efficient when used in manufacturing. However, the counterpart of this method is that is that is extremely expensive compared to traditional methods, such as hot extruding the steel profiles. More specifically, one of the projects that

On site 3D Wire Bending and Assembly of Discrete Elements

Fast discrete fabrication Discrete design and assembly Riversible

deals with 3D printing steel is MX3D. The project deals with metal 3D printing as a tool to achieve freedom in form design, yet it remains cost and time inefficient, while the result is continuous and non-reversible. On the other hand, another interesting project is Metal Mesh Mould from Gramazio Kohler Architects, which develops a spatial robotic extrusion process, mimicking 3D printing with robotic welding and bending wires. However, the process is still continuous, expensive and not reversible. 10


Metal 3D Printing -Freedom in form design -Very expensive -Continuous fabrication -Non-reversible

MX3D Metal 3D Printing -Freedom in form design - Cost effective -Continuous fabrication on site -Non-reversible

Metal Mesh Mould -2D Wire bending -Very expensive -Fabrication on site -Non-reversible

11


Research Context

Comparison with traditional methods

Founded on topological optimization, MetaForm’s algorithm uses the structural stress data obtained from a force field in the shape of stress lines and drives the generation of different types of patterns through these lines. Therefore, the assembly mimics, in the most efficient way, the concept of organizing matter around these principle stress lines and aggregates the elements around them basing the connections accordingly to its mechanical behaviour. Modernist approaches deal with the concept of space with portico

systems, a concatenation of well-defined elements such as the steel deck or the space frame. However, the outcome of these approaches always results in a closed repetitive system. Compared with the digital syntax of structural mereologies, there is only a limited set of possible relations between the elements, where slabs and columns are the same structural element. This method uses two different types of steel bars achieving an intricate network result, more flexible and volumetric. 12


Steel Deck Serialized, standarized, optimized, portico structure, fast assemblage. Different elements and different joints, simple and repetitive.

Space Frames Serialized, standarized, optimized, portico structure, expensive drawings. Different elements and different joints but still very repetitive.

Fully Automated Fiber Steel Structure Assembly Serialized, standarized, optimized, volumetric, cheap and fast. Two different types of bars with heterogeneous result, more flexible.

13


Research Context

Proceeding Research and Development

Continuous

In the discussion concerning analogous versus discrete manufacture, we place ourselves towards a discrete paradigm. Continuous systems seem to face several challenges and show limited performance. The main problems are identified in the speed of the total fabrication process, the constraint of using multiple materials simultaneously, the nonreversibility and limited adaptation capability of what is manufactured. On the other hand, digital materials are units “assembled from a discrete set of parts, reversibly joined in a discrete set of relative positions and orientations” (Gerschenfeld et al 2015). This way, not only the problems presented are overcome, but most importantly robotic assembly of these parts is simplified and much faster as the parts in fact are indicators of the assembly steps and process. The unit defines a simple system by being serially repeated and intelligently combined with other elements and algorithmically assembled, resulting in heterogeneous and differentiated morphologies.

Problems in material transitions Slow fabrication and computation Less adaptive Non-reversible

MX3D Bridge MX3D 2015 Continuous Slow process In place fabrication

Bearing these in mind, combined with the need for scaling up to manufacturing architectural elements, the focus of the project is directed towards the use of steel. Comparing other projects, our focus is directed towards a fully automated assembly of steel structures.

Discrete Wires

“WireVoxels”, “SpaceStream”, “The Clouds of Venice”, “Mesh Mould” are a few research projects that have used similar material and fabrication processes as the ones Metaform is interested in. Specifically, last year’s RC4 project “WireVoxels” automates the bending of the steel bars, while the rest of the assembly is done manually, something that can be a major drawback in the effort of scaling up. “SpaceStream”, another Bartlett project from 2014, that used steel wire for defining architectural elements and space, used fully customized and handmade process, making it difficult to manufacture a larger structure in an efficient way. “The Clouds of Venice” shows an automated way of bending steel and constructing a whole installation of several customized parts in an effective way, however the result still looks homogeneous. “Mesh Mould”, on the other hand, is structural and efficient in the way of making, as it tries to resemble 3D printing with bended wires, but the process is continuous and the result homogeneous, while the process can only be used for fabricating surfaces.

Mesh Mould Metal Gramazio and Kohler 2017 Homogeneous Used for reinforcement In place Robotic Bending

Discrete Simple serialized assembled units Fast aggregations of complex structures Higher resolution Reversible

14


Analog Fabrication

Space Stream RC6 Bartlett 2015 Handcraft Casting Molds Different Form Languages

MetaFor(M) RC4 Bartlett 2017

Interlace WireVoxels.RC4 Bartlett 2016

Hierarchically and Scalable Material Pieces with Different Behaviours On Site Robotically Automated Fiber Steel Structures Computation and Structural Mereology

Welding Assembly 2D Robotic Bending Voxelisation and Stress analysis computation

Venice Cloud Supermanouvre 2012 Highly Customized Homogeneous Result 3D Robotic Bending

Automated Fabrication

15


Research Context Rethinking discrete assembly

Material Manufacturer Material Manufacturer Material Manufacturer Wire Warehouse

Discrete Factory Factory Factory Discrete

On Site

On SiteOn Site

Where discrete elements are created Whereelements discrete elements are created Where are created

WireWarehouse Warehouse Wire

Fabrication and assemblage Fabrication and assemblage Fabrication and assemblage

Shipping Shipping

Shipping Shipping

Shipping

Shipping

Shipping for fabrication Shipping for fabrication

Disassemblage Disassemblage and reconfiguration and reconfiguration

Reassemblage On Site Reassemblage On Site

Flexible and configurable Architecture Flexible and configurable Architecture

Discrete Factory On Site Discrete Factory On Site Fabrication and assemblage

Material Manufacturer Material Manufacturer Wire Warehouse

Fabrication and assemblageDisassemblage

Wire Warehouse

Shipping for fabrication

Reassemblage On Site Flexible and configurable Other Discrete Factories andArchitecture On Site Other Discrete Factories and On Site

and reconfiguration

Disassemblage Disassemblage and shipping and shipping

Fabrication and assemblage Fabrication and assemblage

Reversible Reversible

Material Manufacturer Wire Warehouse

Discrete Factories On Site Fabrication and assemblage

Disassemblage and Shipping Reversible

The project challenges the production chain process by removing the intermediate agent, which is the factory. Factories are where the elements are created, however, in this case prefabricating the element in a controlled environment is not efficient since it reduces the final volume that can be transported and it becomes complex in terms of logistic assembly. Moving the factory directly to the site, fabrication and assembly becomes the same process. The manufacturer ships the material directly to the site. This increases the

volume of transportation up to 9 times, being the most efficient way to deal at the same time with shipping, logistics and fabrication. Theoretically speaking, 450,000 bars could fit inside a 90 m3 truck and could generate 9 volumetric aggregations that fit in a bounding box of 18 x 14 x 6 m. On the other hand, by prefabricating the elements, it would be possible to transport enough material to generate 40% of the volumetric aggregation only. 16

Other Discrete Factories On Site Fabrication and assemblage


1 bar = 0.0002 m3

1 element = 0.02 m3 90m3

=

Truck

Volume of 90 m3

10368 m3

Maison Domino 1152 m3

5 bars Raw Material

=

50000 bars Raw Material

=

1 Element Assemblage of Bars

10000 Elements Assemblage of Bars

90m3

9 Volumetric Agreggations 9 x (18 x 14 x 6 m)

=

Volumetric SpaceFrame (18 x 14 x 6 m)

90m3

etiS nO

Truck 90m Volume of Transportation 3

450 000 Bars Raw Material

90 000 Elements Assemblage of Bars

yrotcaF etercsiD

egalbmessa dna noitacirbaF

9 Volumetric Agreggations 9 x (18 x 14 x 6 m) gnippihS

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90m

erutcetihcrA elbarugfinoc dna elbixelF

3

etiS nO

egalbmessa dna noitacirbaF

Truck (90m3) Volume of Transportation

detaerc era stnemele etercsid erehW

noitacir

yrotcaF etercsiD deOtayerro ctecraFstenteemreclseiD etercsid erehW etiS n egalbmessa dna noitacirbaF

4500 Elements Assemblage of bars

0.4 Volumetric Agreggations gnippihS 0.9 x (18 x 14 x 6 m) etiS nO dna seirotcaF etercsiD rehtO egalbmessa dna noitacirbaF

egalbmessasiD gnippihs dna el

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17

etiS nO yrotcaF etercsiD egalbmessa dna noitacirbaF

noitacir


Research Context

):

Rethinking discrete assembly

1. Transport

Shipping the equipment and material to the site

2. Bending

The Robot bends the bars in specific angles

3. Assembly

The robot rivets the bars into elements and later into bigger aggregations

Fully Automated Fiber Steel Structure Assembly

18


The truck carries all the material and the equipment necessary for the fabrication and assembly (robots with specific end effectors). The first process, the bending, starts after unloading the material and setting the robots. The robot bends the bars in specific angles. Following this process, another robot or potentially the same, assembles the bars into elements, and later into larger aggregations. Finally these larger aggregations are assembled together resulting in a large fiber steel structure assembly. 19


02

Design

Initial Approaches


Design

3D Spatial Lines

Type 1 Straight Line

Type 2 Diagonal Line

Type 3 L-Shape Line

Piece 1 Straight Unit

Piece 2 Diagonal Unit

Piece 3 L-Shape Unit

The initialisation of the design starts with the generation of spatial lines, meaning that the 45 degree angle is created in a volumetric space, shifting directions in different planes.

volumes with particular behaviours. These volumes are contained in a grid of bounding boxes. The three elements respond to the change of direction needed for creating a heterogeneous aggregation, namely one straight, one L-shape and one diagonal.

The project, in this stage, makes use of three different steel rods with round profiles, one straight and the other two bent, in one place and in two places respectively, always in 45ยบ angle. These rods are assembled in a specific way to create three different 22


+ Same face connection and orientation Type 1

2 Type 1 Possible overlapping arrangement

+ Same face connection and different orientations 2 Type 2

Type 2

Possible overlapping arrangement

23


Design

Spatial Lines. Combiantorics

Face Type 2 3 Point Connections Same face connection and different orientations

Face Type 1 2 Point Connections

Face Type 1 2 Point Connections

Face Type 1 2 Point Connections

Same face connection and orientation

Same face connection and orientation

Same face connection and orientation

Piece 1 Straight Unit

Piece 2 Diagonal Unit

For the connections between units, the faces of the bounding box are used as a guide for establishing point to point connections. The orientation of the pieces is based on the connections possibilities, creating heterogeneous aggregations in each step. This way, the connections are limited and controlled, leading to a discrete set of rules for connection between the three units. This is how the combinatorial logic is established, which is implemented in order for the aggregation process to begin. 24

Piece 3 L-Shape Unit


Piece 1 Straight Unit

Piece 1 Straight Unit

Piece 1 Straight Unit

Piece 1 Straight Unit

Piece 1 Straight Unit

25


Design

Spatial Lines.Combinatorics (Rules)

1 connection

2 connections

rotation for connection

2 connections

2 connections

Elongation

Elongation

26


The establishment of the combinatorial logic is based on the point to point connections between units. In order for the assembly to grow and be structural, only two or three point connections are allowed. In order to achieve this, the units are rotated in the three axis accordingly, so that the rules are met every time. Whenever there are loose ends, the length of the line designed is elongated so that it makes a more stable and continuous whole. 27

The approach for the architectural scale, is directed towards the creation of larger aggregations of the units, that later can form even larger structures and be considered as building blocks. Instead of starting with a simple two-floor slab structure, a more complex, multi-layered building system is developed. This building system is non-typological: it is a mere set of part to whole relations, that can be deployed into different buildings.


Design

Large Scale Aggregation


Design

Design Adaptation to Material Research

Square Section 16 x 16 x 2mm 2 Type of Bends

a. Line 2b b. Line 2b’ 2 x 1000

45º

Flat Section 16 x 3mm 4 Types of Bends

a. Line 1 b. Line 2a c. Line 2a’ d. Line 3 1 x 500 2 x 1000 1 x 1300

Round Section Multiple Possible Connections

Line 1 12 x 3 x 400 mm

Square/Flat Section 4 Discrete Connections

Line 2a 12 x 3 x 1000 mm

Bending 6 Types of Bends

Line 2b 12 x 12 x 1000 mm

As mentioned before, the aggregations are defined by building blocks. These metal tiles are composed by round section steel bars. However, the connections through overlapping become almost countless, making the connection logic not discrete.

three different lengths, the result is five different bar typologies, bent in specific places in 45º angle in 2D plane, leaving the option of only four possible connections. This way discreteness is achieved not only in a design level, but also material wise.

As a second iteration, taking into account the fabrication feedback, the design is shifted to the use of two specific cross sections, one hollow square bar (16 x 1.5mm) and the other one flat (16 x 3mm). By having

With these bars, two units are created. The first one, a straight one, is used for elongation and surface behaviour, while the other one, an L-shape unit, is used for changing direction in 3D space, in the three axes. 30

Line 3 12 x 3 x 1200 mm


Conector

45º

Conector

45º

Conector

Conector

45º Conector 45º Conector

Conector

Line 1 12 x 3 x 400 mm

45 º Bending 2 x 45º Bends

Connections 3 Holes for riveting

Line 2b 12 x 12 x 1000 mm

45 º Bending 2 x 45º Bends

Connections 5 Holes for riveting

Conector

45º

Conector

Conector Conector

45º

45º

45º

Line 2a’ 12 x 3 x 500 mm

45 º Bending 2 x 45º Bends

Conector

Conector

Connections 3 Holes for riveting

Line 2a 12 x 3 x 500 mm

45 º Bending 2 x 45º Bends

Conector

Conector

45º 45º

Conector Conector Conector

Line 3 12 x 3 x 1200 mm

45 º Bending 2 x 45º Bends

31

Connections 5 Holes for riveting

Connections 3 Holes for riveting


Design

Design of two elements

Type 1

Type 2

2 Type 2b

2 Type 3

Face Combinatorics

32


Type 1

Type 2

2 Type 1

2 Type 2b

1 Type 2a’

Face Combinatorics

33


Design

Building Blocks

Top Part Aggregation

Lower Part Aggregation

34


35


03

Fabrication

Material Research


Fabrication Material Research

As the round section steel rods, allow for limitless connection possibilities between the units, square profile rods are used, with two different profiles, one square and one flat, so that the connections between them are limited and controlled, allowing for a discrete set of connections. As described before in the design part, the two units created, the straight and the L-shape, are generated by the two different types of rods, cut in four different lengths and bent in five different positions, in 45-degree angle. The restriction caused by the shift from the circular to the square and rectangular section allowed us to resolve the issue of linear, non-volumetric and homogeneous circular rods’ designs.

Apart from the fabrication flexibility that the shift to the flat and square profile bars offer to the project, design wise there are different visual readings based on the orientation of the bars in space in relationship to the viewers. By combining these two thicknesses together, we could break out of the homogeneity trap of steel structures which gives the system the ability to form complex and more articulated geometries based on the combinations. Moreover, following the idea of digital materials, these two units have limited ways to connect through the designed holes impeded into the steel bars. With the same units, we were able to use the space efficiently, create more volumetric aggregations, and generate higher resolution spaces. 38


39


Fabrication Analog Bending

Some general outcomes can be reached from the fabrication research. Thicker material is preferred and slower forming speed, as the amount of springback is less, but always accordingly to the design limitations. The grain direction is also taken into account for the metal rolling process. As far as the friction is concerned, during the bending process, steel rods are forced between the lower die section and the forming punch, so if the clearance between these two sections is less than the metal thickness, intense friction is created. 40


41


Fabrication Digital Bending

42


The bending machine is characterised by one block body and specific mechanical characteristics. The bending disk can be rotated in two torques, clockwise and anti-clockwise. By using the bending machine, optimal performance can be achieved, while at the same time utilizing low power. In order to create the aluminium piece, a 3D printed mock-up was first designed and fabricated, where the tool set for stirrup bending speed variator, double foot 43

pedal, selector panel and special tooling for spirals can be identified. As for the joint system, we are using the riveting system which results into a seamless connection yet highly structural that would allow us shift to the architectural scale. It is highly cheap and strong connection technique which in on one hand cuts down the cost of the system and on the other hand allows the system be reversible.


Fabrication

Tools for Assembly

Bending Machine

Air Pressure Polisher

Air Pressure Rivet Gun

44

Rivets 4.8 * 25mm

Central Punch


45


06

Automation

Robot Fabrication


Automation Research Context

Analog Fabrication

Nowadays, a few architects are involving robotic arms in the fabrication process, along with computational methods trying to achieve heterogeneous spaces, structurally differentiated, and yet highly efficient in using steel as a material. For example, an international architectural and innovation practice called Supermanoeuvre, worked on the International Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, on a project called “Clouds of Venice.” This project combines robotic fabrication with algorithmic design strategies. It challenges the cost of construction, but still adds some spatial quality to the architecture through robotic fabrication. The final installation was made of over a 1,000 distinct parts that are digitally generated then robotically fabricated by developing a customized end effector. Then these pieces are “welded together manually to generate a new spatial experience of highly diffused and gradient spatial readings” (Supermanoeuvre 2012). The use of the robotic arm to generate the steel bars speeded up the process and added another level of accuracy to the project. However, from an aesthetic point of view, the installation still looks quite homogeneous. Additionally, it is not reversible, since the parts are customized and fit in a specific place, which is a goal our project is trying to achieve. Also, the whole structure was assembled by hand, which is not efficient in logistics throughout the assembly process.

Space Stream RC6 Bartlett 2015

Interlace WireVoxels.RC4 Bartlett 2016

Venice Cloud Supermanouvre 2012

Bendilicious Maria Smigielska 2016

Another example of robotic fabrication project is Mesh Mould Metal (research project in ETH Zurich), by Gramazio Kohler Research. The research investigates the generation of a single robotically fabricated metal mesh that combines formwork and reinforcement. “The Mesh Mould is developed to be a fully loadbearing construction system by automating the process of bending and welding 3mm steel wires” (Gramazio Kohler Research 2017). This was achieved by a sophisticated end-effector, automating both the bending and welding processes. However, the final outcome could be characterised as a repetitive “homogeneous” mesh of extruded layered metal wires. Moreover, the concrete was applied by hand and it was not part of the construction process which defeats the idea of automating the construction. On the other hand, the reversibility and the scalability of the system was called into question, since welding is used. The idea of combining both the bending and the joining of the steel in one process is the breakthrough of this research.

Mesh Mould Metal Gramazio and Kohler 2017

Automated Fabrication

48


Serialized Discrete Parts

Robotic Assembly

MetaForM RC4 Bartlett 2017

Hetrogeneous Aggregation

To sum up, both previous projects were successful in using industrial robots as part of the fabrication and/ or construction process to reduce the cost, increase accuracy and speed up the process. They used discrete circular steel rods as the design element, which is very hard to control while connecting, due to the unlimited face connections. Moreover, welding was used to connect the steel rods together which 49

makes both systems irreversible, yet it reduces the cost of the expensive customized joints that space frames use. However, we cannot categorize any of the projects as a digital material system. The circular profile of the steel bars allows for unlimited possible connections between the elements; hence, both projects are completely analogue systems.


Robot Fabrication

Automation of Bending and Assembly v.01

Bending End Effector

Bridging the gap between fabrication and robotic assembly process has always been a key goal in the project. Since we are developing a digital material with a set of repetitive limited connections, the concept of using a robotic arm is highly feasible. Therefore, we started developing an end effector that combines both functions in one process where the robot not only could pick these discrete elements and place it in the right place but also fixes these prefabricated steel bars together. With this method, the process of the digital

Picking and Placing Steel Rods

design is the same as the fabrication system through these discrete digital steel bars. Thus, we will be able to automate the entire process which will speed up the construction time and decreases the human labor required on site. In smaller scale prototypes, we prefabricate steel bars since the cost is not high. The robotic arm picks the bent bars, places and joins them together.

50

Bending Steel Rods


Robot Fabrication Automation of Assembly v.02

Rivet Gun Springs 2 Parallel Holder

Pneumatic Solenoid Valve

Gripper Holder Connector to Robot

We developed an end-effector that is attached to a robotic arm which will allow us to combine both the fabrication and assembly process. Furthermore, due to the four possible connections resulting from the material profile, the robotic part of the fabrication and assembly becomes easier since it only allows for four possible gripping faces. 52


Robot Fabrication Automation of Assembly v.03

Flange Pneumatic Vacuum Generator

Rivet Gun Vacuum Generator Holder

Pneumatic Bulkhead Adapter Suction Cup Holder Suction Cup

Pneumatic Vacuum Generator

The second iteration of the end effector combines two pneumatic systems. The first one is used for picking and placing the bars through a pneumatic vacuum generator that is connected to suction cups. The other pneumatic system is for the automatic riveting gun that is used to fix these bars together. In addition, integrating the pneumatic suction system gave us the

flexibility in terms of integrating and adding different type of materials to our design which is helpful when we start thinking about architectural scale. Thus, it will result in reducing both the time and the money specifically during construction process which will increase the efficiency of the system.

54


Feeder

End Effector

Robotic Arm

Aggregation

Aggregation Base

55


Robot Fabrication End Effector and Set Up

Rivet Gun Holder Suction Cup Holder Pneumatic Vacuum Generator Suction Cup Rivet Gun

Robot ABB 1600

56


57


Robot Fabrication Robot Choreography

The mechanism of the assembly process comes from the combination of the two sections (flat and square). There are two lines of production, the positioning of the square bars is based on a picking and placing procedure, linked to the base, while on the other hand, the flat bars links the square bars together through riveting, being attached to the already placed bars and stiffening the aggregation.

The sequence followed, which is crucial to avoid collision between the robot and the aggregation, is initialised from the top right corner, ending in the bottom left corner of the base.


59


60


61


05

Computation Aggregation Logics


Computation

The MetaForm’s algorithm is running within a preconceived design space, which was previously explored, under some constraints and conditions to generate the space. The results of the simulation are a series of continuous traces that display two sets of structural results, compression and tension. The stress field is represented by a layout of discrete vectors forces. These forces express and represent the flow of the stress through the structure, to generate forms that integrate the structure, that are materially efficient and aesthetically appealing.

Unit Direction

Stress Analysis 2D

To approach this methodology, the first step needed was the discretization of the field, which had to be developed firstly in 2D and then applied in a threedimensional space.

Shift Direction

Unit Directions

Color Gradient

Vertical Growth

Different Scales

In order to form the computational logic, stress analysis is used in a simple slab example, which is closer to a 2D surface, rather than a 3D space. The stress analysis is computed based on variable support and load conditions, generating a diagram of different tensions, directions and colour gradient. The stress field generated is discretized and placed into the grid. The discretization of the tangent vectors are replaced into to its nearest predefined 45º angle. The grid is then used for the pieces’ orientation in space, the colour for vertical growth and the distance of the lines are used for the decision of the different scales.

[5, 8, -10]

Scale x 1

Scale x 0.5

Distance

64

Units


Force Z axis

Force Y, Z axis

Force X, Y, Z axis

1.a [0, 0, -10]

1.b [0, 0, -15]

1.c [0, 0, -20]

2.a [0, -5, -5]

2.b [0, -10, -10]

2.c [0, -20, -20]

3.a [5, 5, -10]

3.b [2, 2, -5]

3.c [2, -4, -5]

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Computation Stress Analysis 2D

Grid

Max Stress Values Bar

Principal Stress Lines

Aggregation based on the Stress Analysis


Computa tion Stress Analysis 2D

The stress analysis may be used, as it is a logical step towards an outcome that needs to resemble space and be structurally achievable. However, the form generated is not something structural or spatial yet. The actual aggregation of the units happens in a second level of editing, following a bottom-up logic, based on the specific connections between the units that are possible. These logics are interconnected and finally crucial to the forming

of a whole structure, one that follows both local connections and stress lines, where units create an interesting whole by local interrelations, but meet a global purpose set from the designer. However, the actual outcome can be characterised as a more of a 2.5D structure, since it is derived from the analysis of a surface, namely the slab, lacking both in structural integrity and aesthetics complexity, even though the aggregation is to some extent controlled both from the designer and the stress data.


Computation Stress Lines

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Piece Type

Rotation

x y z

One approach that is used in MetaFor(M)’s algorithm is the aggregation through the stress lines. In a similar way in how topology optimization works, by discretizing the domain of the design in discrete components or finite elements. Proceeding later in the organisation and placement of the material around the lines of high stress values, the algorithm runs around these lines aggregating the elements in the space.

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The discretized lines are registered in two different types of forces, tension and compression. The strategy applied around compression lines, is to stack the elements in a compact way following as most strict as possible the original trajectory of the traces. In these points, the structure becomes thicker simulating a compact mass to transmit the compression forces through the aggregation.


Computation Stress Analysis 3D

Loads and Supports

Voxelized Space

Continuous Stress Lines

Discretized Vector Field

Adding up the third dimension, the square grid becomes a voxel grid, the grid points become a three -dimensional vector field and the simulation allows to evaluate the stress values in a volume. Discretizing once more the field results in obtaining the tangent vector for directionally in each point of the discrete grid. In this case the starting point is settled as a bounding box with specific conditions (loads, supports and dense areas). A topological optimization analysis is ran resulting in the generation of 3D stress lines,

that are divided and discretized into 45ยบ angle based lines. These angles act as a guide for the orientation. After obtaining the principal lines of stress, these run through the previously optimized spaces, and the field is discretized into the regular grid, the algorithm then proceeds to add a series of serialized and standardized elements through a procedural combinatoric logic with limited connections and specific rules along the curves, producing a structural optimized aggregation.


Computation

Connections Rules. Blue Line

Point 06 (1000,240,0)

Point 08 (540,540,0)

As a third iteration, the project focuses on the geometry of the units and combinatorics. Since the amount of possible connections is countless, due to the limitless points in which each unit can connect to the others, more rules and constrains need to be introduced, so that the project can be characterised as discrete. More specifically, a “Blue line� is established

Point 13 (0,0,0)

Point 03 (0,0,0)

in each unit, namely we individualize one of the thick steel rods in each unit and the point connections are done only through these rods. By this constraint, the possible connections are decreased to a great degree, which makes it easier for the designer to be in charge of the aggregation process.

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Piece 2 Connection through Flat-Square

Piece 2 Connection through Points

Piece 1 Connection through Flat-Square

Piece 1 Connection through Points

Piece 2 Connection through Points

Piece 2 Connection through Stacking

Straight Element Connections The Blue Line

Piece 1 Connection through Points

L- Shape Element Connections The Blue Line

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Piece 1 Connection through Stacking


Computation

Catalog of Connections

Connection 01 2 Point connection = Alignment

Connection 02 2 Point connection 180 Y axis

Connection 03 2 Point connection 90 Z axis

Connection 04 1 Point connection 180 X axis

Connection 05 1 Point connection 90 Z axis

Connection 06 1 Point connection 180 X axis + Shifted Z axis

Connection 07 1 Point connection 180 Z axis

Connection 08 1 Point connection 180 X axis & 90 Z axis

Connection 09 1 Point connection 270 Z axis

Connection 10 1 Point connection 180 X axis & 90 Z axis

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Connection 11 1 Point connection = Aligment

Connection 12 2 Point connection 90 Z axis

Connection 13 1 Point connection Shifted Aligment Z axis

Connection 14 2 Point connection 180 Z axis

Connection 15 1 Point connection =Aligment Z axis

Connection 16 2 Point connection 180 Z axis

Connection 17 1 Point connection 90 Z axis

Connection 18 1 Point connection 180 Z axis

Connection 19 1 Point connection 90 Z axis

Connection 20 2 Point connection 270 Z axis

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Computation

Catalog of Connections

Connection 01’ 1 Point connection 270 X axis A -C

Connection 07’ 2 Point connection 180 X axis C - C, D - D

Connection 02’ 1 Point connection 90 X axis B-A

Connection 08’ 2 Point connection 180 X axis C - C, D - D

Connection 03’ 2 Point connection 180 Y axis B-A

Connection 09’ 1 Point connection 90 X axis D-B

Connection 4’ 1 Point connection 180 Y axis and 90 Z axis A-A

Connection 10’ 2 Point connection 90 Z axis and 90 X axis B- C

Connection 05’ 2 Point connection 180 Y axisand 90 Z axis B-A

Connection 11’ 2 Point connection 180 X axis C - C, D - D

Connection 06’ 3 Point connection 180 Y axis and 270 Z axis B-B

Connection 12’ 1 Point connection 270 Z axis D -D

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Connection 13’ 1 Point connection =Aligment

Connection 19’ 2 Point connection 270 X axis

Connection 14’ 2 Point connection = Aligment

Connection 20’ 2 Point connection 270 X axis

Connection 15’ 1 Point connection = Aligment

Connection 21’ 2 Point connection 270 X axis

Connection 16’ 1 Point connection 90 X axis

Connection 22’ 2 Point connection 180 Z axis

Connection 17’ 1 Point connection 90 X axis

Connection 23’ 2 Point connection 180 Y axis

Connection 18’ 1 Point connection 90 X axis

Connection 24’ 2 Point connection 180 Y axis

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Computation

Computing Behaviours of the Elements


Computation

Connections Rules. Stickers

Point 06 (1000,240,0)

Point 13 (0,0,0)

Point 08 (540,540,0)

Point 03 (0,0,0)

06 05

04

03 09

01

04

02

01

12

02

13

03

05 06

00 11

07 08

Since the aggregations made can be characterised still as quite unorganised, the next step for controlling the behaviour of the aggregations made is to establish the “Stickers” rule. More specifically, the establishment of specific points in each rod and in each unit, where the connections mentioned above take place. By these two constraints, the “Blue Line” and the “Stickers”, the possible connections are decreased. At this stage, the code is informed by the new rules. In the bounding box set by the designer, through

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every iteration, a new unit is created, either a straight one or an L-shape. When the unit is created, another unit that already exists, is picked randomly from the aggregation formed, to establish where the new unit is going to be connected. After that, a connection point is picked randomly in the existing unit and according to the rules set, the unit generated is connected to that point. However, this is not always possible, as the code keeps running and the aggregation grows, less and less points remain available in each unit aggregated for further connections. That is why, 82

00

every time, before connecting a new unit to an existing one, the algorithm firstly checks if the point in the existing unit selected is empty and available for connections. If it is, then the aggregation proceeds as described. If not, then the new unit is discarded and another unit is generated, picking randomly a connection point in the existing unit selected in the aggregation. The algorithm stops, either when there are no more possible connections or when the units generated reach the counter set by the designer.


Connection 10’’ 1 Point connection =Aligment Square - Flat

Connection 11’’ 2 Point connection 180 Z axis Square - Square

Connection 12’’ 2 Point connection 90 X axis Square - Flat

Connection 13’’ 2 Point connection 270 Z axis Square - Square

Connection 14’’ 2 Point connection 180 X axis Square - Square

Connection 15’’ 1 Point connection 90 Z axis and 90 X axis Square - Square

Connection 16’’ 1 Point connection 270 X axis Square - Flat

Connection 17’’ 2 Point connection 90 X axis 270 Z axisSquare - Square

Connection 18’’ 1 Point connection 90 Z axis Square - Square

Connection 19’’ 2 Point connection 90 X axis 270 Z axis Square - Square

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Computation

Computing Behaviours of the Elements

numConn = 5 numUnits = 118 rotationDeg = 0.45.90.135.270.360

numConn = 4 numUnits = 50 rotationDeg = 0.90.270.360

numConn = 5 numUnits = 183 rotationDeg = 0.90.270.360

numConn = 3 numUnits = 35 rotationDeg = 0.45.90.135.270.360

numConn = 5 numUnits = 109 rotationDeg = 0.90.270.360

numConn = 5 numUnits = 93 rotationDeg = 0.90

numConn = 3 numUnits = 62 rotationDeg = 0.45.90.135.270.360

numConn = 5 numUnits = 49 rotationDeg = 0.90

numConn = 1 numUnits = 9 rotationDeg = 0.90.270.360


Computation Catalog

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Column Iteration 01

Column Iteration 02

Column Iteration 03

Slab Iteration 01

Slab Iteration 02

Slab Iteration 03

Stairs Iteration 01

Stairs Iteration 02

Stairs Iteration 03

As the rules are informing the performance of the code, the next computational iteration focuses on the specific rules set in order to achieve specific behaviours such as slabs, columns, steps. A great population of generated aggregations, an “army� of different pieces in varying sizes is created, that can form new aggregatations by their in between combinations, or whose boundary can be the starting point for new aggregations around that core. Each 87

solution produced is evaluated afterwards by the designer based on matters of structural ability, spatial qualities and aesthetics. Based on that, the aggregations are discarded or kept in order to form a catalogue of possible aggregations, larger chunks formed out of the simple units.


Computation

Large Scale Aggregation

In this approach, top down decisions are not used at all. The designer makes decisions about the parameters of the aggregation at an early stage but sets the rules without knowing or predicting the final result, which can be different in each iteration. Through this methodology, there is a great population of generated aggregations, based on the number of units connected, set from the designer. Each solution produced is evaluated by the

designer based on matters of structural ability, spatial qualities and aesthetics. Based on that, the aggregations are discarded or kept in order to form a catalogue of possible aggregations, larger chunks formed out of the simple units. However, while a generative algorithm continues the procedure each time trying to improve the results through the fitness function applied, in the project the results produced are random and assessed 90

each time by the designer afterwards, narrowing each time the final choices to more optimal aggregations as the procedure keeps evolving. The aggregations produced have spatial qualities, but in the methodology followed, the designer’s control over the process is limited, while there is no way to have a clear perception beforehand of how the aggregations will look like or behave.


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Computation Structural Mereology

The effectiveness of this approach relies in “cracking� the optimal orientation of the pieces per its position in space and neighbouring connections. Eventually, with this method any tile could be used with no need of a preconceived structural behaviour. MetaForm pieces are unstable by themselves, with a very flexible and wobbly behaviour, they are not even self-bearing pieces. However, after assembling some of them together, the whole generated becomes increasingly stiffer.

Therefore, fully geometrically understanding the piece becomes the priority. In the interest of obtaining the optimal orientation in every position, it is important to define the centre of mass for calculating the inertia of the pieces. The inertia is calculated in every orientation of the piece and the higher values are recorded. This analysis will describe the different orientation that the elements need to follow to work in favour of its mechanical behaviour.

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93


Computation

Structural Combinatorics

L Shape with L Shape Connections

Straight Shape with Straight Shape Connections

L Shape with Straight Connections


The two MetaForm tiles have different behaviours, a direction behaviour that drives the aggregation and an orientation behaviour according to its mechanical properties. For example, the L-shape unit in addition to being used for changing the direction of the aggregation, it is also oriented perpendicular to the stress lines. This creates singularities in which sometimes the orientation must prevail over the directionality, otherwise it will compromise the stability of the 95

aggregation. The singularities are solved by the addition of more pieces to redirect the aggregation again in the stress lines path. Once more, the system works around the stress lines, it takes the discretized lines registered in the two different types of forces and aggregates through stacking for compression and point to point connection for tension. Furthermore, the orientation is taken into consideration, prevailing the strong connections between elements and the optimal orientation of the pieces.


Computation

Structural Combinatorics

Once more, the system works around the stress lines, it takes the discretized lines registered in the two different types of forces and aggregates through stacking for compression and point to point connection for tension. This is the same methodology as the previous approach, however in this case, the orientation is taken into consideration, prevailing the strong connections between elements and the optimal orientation of the pieces. Furthermore, in contrast to the previous approach, another stiffening methodology is applied. Instead of using traditional bracing, one of the two tiles are placed in specific places so that they shew the aggregation and lock possible movements in all directions. Once a whole aggregation is finished, some lateral forces are applied to the system to determine where the bracing in needed. This will create some deflections in the x and y axis that will stablish where the bracing is needed.

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Computation

Structural Combinatorics

Stiff Aggregation. Iteration 01

Stiff Aggregation. Iteration 02

Stiff Aggregation. Iteration 03

Stiff Aggregation. Iteration 04

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Stiff Aggregation. Wall Test

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Computation B.E.S.O. Optimization

0% 240 Elements

25% 180 Elements

50% 120 Elements

50% 120 Elements

75% 180 Elements

75 % 180 Elements


Total Length 4410mm

Max. Allowed Disp. 13mm

Model Disp. 8mm

Constantly aggregating elements sometimes leads to redundancy. A system with redundant elements Is clearly not an optimized structure. Consequently, MetaForm develops a third procedure to delete the unnecessary pieces. This operation is based in the bi-directional evolutionary structural optimization (B.E.S.O.). This tool is an important branch of topology optimization, it uses a mesh independent and bidirectional evolutionary solver, which allows both material removal and addition.

The tool is applied in the beam system to check which bars are working under stress. Based on a range of utilization percentage we check which bars have minimum or non-stress. If more than two bars are not working in the system, since each element is composed by five steel bars, the whole element is removed. Finally, the stability of the system is checked one last time.


Computation

Large Scale Iterations

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06

Prototypes

Material Realization


Prototype I

Design and Fabrication Process

Mild Square Bars length: 6m thickness: 16x5mm weigth: 2.1kg/m The first large prototype focused on highlightening the capability of the units to shift directions and form aggregations in all of the three axes, creating volumetric aggregations in space. Additionally, the need for a building system was expressed through the corner prototype, which can be translated into a slab, a column and generally a structure that changes the direction of the agggregation in architectural space, if aggregated with other pieces with specific behaviour.

Cutting

Drilling

Bending

Assembly

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Mild Steel Flat Bars length: 3m thickness: 16x5mm weigth: 0.63kg/m


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Prototype I

Design and Fabrication Process

108


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All the pieces are firstly fabricated based on the design and then assembled together following a specific sequence. The crucial part for the structural ability is the triangular base in the middle, generated from three L-shape units, holding the whole structure together. It acts as a core, both in the design, but in the physical world as well, a starting point from where the rest of the aggregation expands to the outer borders.

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Prototype II

Design and Fabrication Process

Mild Square Bars length: 6m thickness: 16x5mm weigth: 2.1kg/m The second prototype follows the same strategy but the aim is the fabrication of a structure that could be related and compared with a traditional building system. A truss is designed, based on the discrete combinations the two units allow. Comparing with real life applications of building systems, the system produced through the project’s prototype is more efficient in matters of material used, cost and fabrication time, while at the same time possessing the structural qualities and load bearing characteristics of the similar traditional systems used nowadays. The structural ability of the truss was tested digitally, through stress analysis, which was giving feedback to the design through a continuous feedback loop, leading to the final prototype design and assembly sequence. The prototype was physically tested, after it was fabricated for bearing 240 kg of weight.

Cutting

Drilling

Bending

Assembly

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Mild Steel Flat Bars length: 2 x 1m thickness: 3 mm weigth: 0.63kg/m


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Prototype III (B-Pro Show) Design and Fabrication Process

Mild Square Bars length: 6m thickness: 16x5mm weigth: 2.1kg/m For the prototype built for the B-Pro Show, the logic remains the same, but the units change to be fabricated only from square bars of 16*16mm hollow profile, helping in the structural ability and load bearing characteristics of a heavier whole. The particular prototype consists part of the architectural speculation for a scale-up approach in the design process of the discrete assemblies. It consists part of the main column that supports the whole structure. In this particular moment, the lower part of the column branches out in different directions, due to the flexibility of rotation that the discrete pieces allow, through their combinatorics. This way, the column turns to become a slab and the other way around. The same system is used for the design of steps, columns, corners, slabs, openings, resulting in a similar aesthetic effect on the top plan, as well as in the elevation, forming the bones, the structural system of a larger aggregation with architectural qualities.

Cutting

Drilling

Bending

Assembly


Prototype III (B-Pro Show) Design and Fabrication Process

An important aspect of the Metaform project, that aligns with the idea of discreteness, is the recyclability of pieces or material. Specifically, the second prototype, the truss, was fabricated by reusing 10% of the material used in the first prototype. The reason for the low amount is that the design changed in some technical details, so the new units consist of rods with different lengths than the previous ones. However, in the third prototype, exhibited in the BPro Show, we managed to recycle more than 30%of the material used in the truss by disassembling it and reconfiguring the material for new pieces that form the final aggregation. This way, the projects´ physical realisation becomes efficient in matters of cost and fabrication time.

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Corner: 22 pieces 0% Recycled pieces

Truss: 31 pieces 10% Recycled pieces

Bpro: 62 pieces 34% Recycled pieces

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07

Architectural Speculation


Architectural Development Design Process. Iteration 01

Initial Conditions

Stress Lines

Stiffness Diagram

Deflection Diagram

Principal Stress

Von Mises Diagram

The same logic that was followed and explained before in a 2D grid is now applied to a 3D volume in order to extract a more volumetric whole, that expands in space. The guidelines for the aggregation are given through the stress analysis data, but at the same time detailed spatial qualities consist an aim to be accomplished through combinatorics. Through a series of diagrams, the main stress and compression lines are used as a driving force of the design, leading to a general diagram of differentiated spaces. A

simplified version of the stress field is used to define the unit needed, and its direction, orientation and order, in the place that is going to be placed. That way, a general plan of the whole aggregation is created. However, the form is not something structural or spatial yet. The actual aggregation of the units happens in a second level of editing, following a bottom-up logic, based on the specific connections between the units that are possible. These logics are interconnected and finally crucial to the forming of a whole structure, one that 122

follows both local connections and stress lines, where units create an interesting whole by local interrelations, but meet a global purpose set from the designer. The aesthetic outcome is a hairy, fuzzy aggregation of rods, aesthetically complex, but still lacking in structural integrity and hierarchy of space.


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Architectural Development Iteration 01

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125


Architectural Development Iteration 02

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127


Architectural Development Iteration v.01

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129


Architectural Development Iteration 03

A similar computational logic is followed in this iteration as described before. The difference is that instead of aggregating unit by unit, based on the space diagram that is created through the stress analysis data, the aggregation is performed in a higher level, from larger chunks generated through the code explained before. Thus, the outcome remains hairy and quite messy, but some architectural qualities are evident, for example portico systems, enclosure of space, steps or corners that extend to be a slab or a roof, changing direction in the three axes. 130


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132


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Architectural Development Iteration 04

Since in this iteration, a building system can be identified, even though the redundancy of pieces is apparent, a step further is researched, by testing the placement of discrete panels. These panels are designed as surfaces that are attached to the discrete units in specific positions, so by the aggregation of the units, the panels form different patterns as well. These panels give to the whole design a different reading, a more articulated view of the whole design and a rather detailed space, where eventually a slab or a staircase can be easily identified. 134


135


136


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Architectural Development Iteration 05. Design Process

Apart from the previous iterations, the desired outcome remains an architectural speculation inside a bounding box of 18*14*6m. In order to achieve that, we followed a series of steps, including both top-down and bottom-up decisions, with interrelated feedback loops throughout the process, in different scales and levels of the design. At that point, robotic fabrication constraints play a major role for the actual realisation of such a project, since we are taking into account the maximum volume that can be built in one go with the robot, in order to start dividing the whole bounding box based on that, for matters of efficiency, as described below. The starting point for the articulation of the plan is the vertical circulation, namely the staircase needed to bridge two different levels, in the middle of the plan. Then vertical supports are placed, based on the previous decision when needed. From the fabrication feedback, we know that the largest bounding box we can fill with an aggregation is 12m*2m*1m, due to the range of the robot. Trying to make the whole process more efficient, we try to use voxelised volumes, with the dimensions mentioned, in order to fill the larger slabs in the different levels. A general diagram is created, like a top plan, showing the space articulation and circulation, but also the sequence of the fabrication steps. After that, we zoom in a smaller scale, in a more detailed way in order to fill the voxelised volumes with the actual unit aggregation. Each one of these volumes contains specific data about deflection, tension, compression, direction of the stress flow. Based on the sequence established earlier, the rules set for the connection of the units and the different behaviours and the data from the stress analysis, the code is used, starting from the connection points between the volumes, where stronger connections are needed and proceeding from the inside out, filling the space.


Connection Area

Isolation of the Voxels

Identification of Neighbouring Connections

Connection Area

Connection Area

Connecting Units

Connecting Units

The interlevel feedback loops and multiscale analysis lead to a result that is both intriguing aesthetically but at the same time contains spatial qualities and could be characterised as an architectural space. The unit combinatorics offer the opportunity for a differentiated effect, yet since the whole aggregation is following rules, the aggregation is controlled by the designer as for the general space it is going to fill. The stress analysis that

was rejected before as a generalised way of forming the basis of the design, is used in this iteration as a tool of clarifying which connections between the units are stronger and which ones are weaker. This way there is a categorisation between stronger connections needed for support and weaker ones, used for detailing, ornamentation, transparency or density formation, or even for the enhancement of support in some places.

Connection Area

Connecting Units

Aggregation Following the Lines

As a final step, the Bi-directional Evolutionary Structural Optimization (BESO) is used in the final outcome. In Metaform´s case, BESO is used in the whole final aggregation to check for redundant pieces. By removing redundant pieces, without affecting the structural integrity of the structure, the efficiency of the system is increased, since the material, the weight of the structure and the fabrication time needed are decreased.


Architectural Development Iteration 05. Assembly Process

Deployment of the material and the track

Base, where the chunks will be placed

Bending with the robot

Pick and place of the rods to the temporary base by the robot

The larger aggregation starts to form

Larger aggregation, building chunk

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The general set up takes into account the procedure needed to move from steel bars to an architectural space, from smaller complex chunks that are robotically assembled. The elements are serialized and standardized then shipped to the site along with the robotic arm, robotic track, bending bed and the end effector. After that, the robot starts with the picking, bending if needed, placing and riveting generating a bigger chunk of units. The

chunks are fabricated to 12 meter in length, 1 meter in depth, and 2 in height. The process of assembling the bars follows specific rules and order to avoid collision between the element itself and the elements and the robot. Consequently, these chunks are lifted by a crane and placed in specific sequence where scaffolding is not required. This results in accomplishing an intriguing whole, minimizing the whole time of the process. The advantages of such approach are time and logistics 141

efficiency, low cost in material and fabrication, resulting into aesthetically various architectural spaces. Considering the reversibility of the system, we can disassemble the building into chunks and reconfigure them, ship them to another site. In addition, we can disassemble all of pieces and reuse the material which will result into reducing the material wastage.


Architectural Development Iteration 05. Design Process II

Slab Voxelisation

Generated stress field through specific loads and supports applied

Discretization of the stress field

Further voxelisation based on the fabrication constraints, in three different types of discrete larger voxels.

Generation of the lines inside the voxels, that guide the aggregation of the units.


The final outcome could be characterised as the bones of the structure, a building system


Architectural Development Iteration 05

The outcome of this process represents a building system, a skeleton that consists of articulation throughout two levels. A large column starts from the ground and branches out in different directions, in order to retain the stability of the whole. Apparently, the structure is not habitable at this point, but shows how discrete design and fabrication could work in a larger scale, in architectural space in a quick and efficiwent way, through robotic automation.

The next step deals with enclosure. The final design outcome changes in the facade to have places to hold glass panels. Metal sheets are also put on the floor , based on the pattern generated in the previous iteration, in order to make the slabs walkable.

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Architectural Development Iteration 05. Assembly Process II

Set up for the assembly line of 12*2*1m

Assembling inside the voxelised boundng boxes

Generating aggregations in a sequence

The robot generates aggregations inisde the three different voxelised bounding boxes

The aggregation grows inside the predefined bounding boxes

Now the aggregations are ready to be picked and placed by the crane in a specific spot

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Starting by the base, the crane picks and places the chunks already made by the assembly line with the robot in specific places to form the larger architectural aggregation

At the same time, the robot keeps aggregating and forming the larger chunks, making the whole fabrication line quick and efficient. 149


Architectural Development Iteration 05

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We would like to express our gratitude to our tutors Gilles Retsin, Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Vicente Soler (Design Computation Lab, Research Cluster 4 tutors at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) for their advice and support in both the research and design projects throughout the year. Particular gratitude is also due to Sherif Tarabishy and Charitini Skaltsari (MSc-Architectural Computation) for their help on computational strategies and technical matters.


The Bartlett School of Architecture Bartlett Prospective MArch Architectural Design Research Cluster 4

Design Computation Lab UCL Co-Founders| Mollie Claypol Manuel Jimenez Garcia Gilles Retsin Vicente Soler

MetaFor(M) | Vasiliki Alamanou Ahmad Eltoutngi Miguel Garcia Jimenez Virginie Guillaume Tutors | Gilles Retsin Manuel Jimenez Garcia Vicente Soler


MetaFor(M) Portfolio  

The Bartlett School of Architecture. Research Cluster 4 (RC4). Group: MetaFor(M). Team: Vasiliki Alamanou, Ahmed Eltoutngi, Miguel Garc...

MetaFor(M) Portfolio  

The Bartlett School of Architecture. Research Cluster 4 (RC4). Group: MetaFor(M). Team: Vasiliki Alamanou, Ahmed Eltoutngi, Miguel Garc...

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