Robotic Assemblage

david hensel

How can a visual timber truss be feasibly constructed to allow greater choice in architectural freedom?

At present, three-dimensional timber trusses are often not feasible as an architectural solution, as the end conditions are quite complex. The result of these complex situations is that they are not time or cost effective when constructed by hand. As a result, architects and designers tend not to frequently use these trusses as an expressive structural member, over steel and concrete alternatives. The fourth industrial revolution is making massive technological advancements in bringing together the digital realm and the physical. Architecture and the building industry as a whole are making steps towards harnessing some of these new technologies, but there is far more that can be explored with what is already available. Robotic fabrication brings with it the ability to automate certain tasks with an incredibly high tolerance of precision, allowing for the potential methods of construction, craft, and customisation that have previously been difficult, slow, and ultimately not cost effective enough to pursue. This thesis looks to create a tool that generates parametric truss designs from a simple user interface, that can then work out all the required end geometry, and write the code for a robot to then manufacture everything, ready to be assembled. This will be directly compared to exactly the same process with traditional design and fabrication methods, to analyse the differences in cost and time, as well as the constraints of each and opportunities that each brings. I propose that designing through DFMA, (design for manufacturing and assembly), the precision of robotic fabrication could be used to make these complex end conditions and assembly of these timber structures much faster, and therefore more feasible as an architectural solution.

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