SG2010 – EB

Smart Geometry 2010 - Explicit bricks cluster



Workshop _ Explicit Bricks at Smart Geometry 2010
Tobias Bonwetsch, Ralph Bärtschi, Andrea Kondziela (Gramatio&Kohler DFABARCH) – ETH Zurich
Smart Geometry
IaaC Barcelona
14-16 June 2013

With the Smart Geometry 2010 event we had the oportunity to participate in the Explicit Bricks cluster workshop, one of the 10 working groups, that for 4 days designed, tested and fabricated with the use od digital tools one of the most advanced prototypes in the last few years. The workshop clusteres aimed, for the first time in the Smart Geometry history, to break out from the virtual models that were computer generated and tackeled reality, hot to use these digital tools to actualy build something.

Ionuț Anton attended one of the workshop clusters, tha used a robotic arm to hotwire cut polystirene bricks. The aim of the workshop was to find a feasable way to cut and connect bricks to produce a stable structure that would be fabricated and assembled on site. We had at our disposal about 700 polystirene bricks for testing and final products. A team, lead by Gramatio&Kohler DFABARCH from ETH Zurich was controlling the robot. The three tutors of the workshop were: Tobias Bonwetsch, Ralph Bärtschi și Andrea Kondziela.

During the 4 long days of the workshop the 12 participants in the cluster collaborated towards a common goal: to build, to fabricate bricks to a geometry well defined in the digital model via a robotic arm, that with immense precision awad eagerly to process even more bricks. After a short introduction in the fabrication process and similar application done by the swiss team, each participant researched a own way to make a structure out of intersecting bricks.

At the end of the first day we already had some first working prototypes and the group discussed each model’s individual performance and problems. The reseach was split into two directons, how to interlock cut bricks and how to deploy a brick component onto a spatial structure. Some of the proposed ideas went through to buildign a geodesic dome or an arch made of interlocking bricks.
The next two days were devoted to finding a solution that emerged as using two rows of different rotation bricks that can populate a surface. The problem was to determine the specific parameters governing the disposal of the bricks in the two rows and their rotation. After numerous trys we managed to obtain a logic that appeared to be working. As fot the shape of our construction, even from the start we decided we wanted something more thatn a wall. We wanted something more that existing examples (some even built by our tutors). We started exploring vaulted and even domed shaped structures. After careful consideration and a lot of shape exploring we decided to go with a dome like shape, but with an opening on the uper side.

The last day was dedicated to fabricated all the bricks and the assembley of the structure. The team developed two structures. The first one to get fabricated was a catenary sistem made out of four arches, that went up to three and a half meters height. Although we perfected a digital workflow from working with a brick component and deriving each individual brick shape from the general assembley to feed to the robot to cut, the process isnt fully automatic and required also a few operations to perfomed by hand. This last day as a coordineted chaos, in which each participant fed bricks to the robot, picked and labeled finished bricks, sorted bricks, simulated the construction, traced the layout of the construction on the floor and fitted bricks in their rhigtfull place on the final construction. After a tedius handmade assembley process, building brick by brick, it was a great feeling to see the working prototype finished and to see live what we immagined using digital tools.

More images of the workshop on Google Picasa.

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