Generative Processes in Architecture and Urbanism

Workshop 2 – 2009

Phase 1 workshop ‘Robotic Matter’, taught by Marta Male-Alemany and Jeroen van Ameijde.
AA Design Research Lab (DRL), London, October–November 2009

The aim of this workshop was to investigate the workflow between computational design and production methods, via a systematic exploration of the relationships between design input and computer programmable devices that can be used for the production of architectural components or spaces.
Challenging the traditional norms of linear file-to-factory production processes, the workshop aimed to investigate scenarios in which parametric design and production are developed in parallel, using a software and hardware setup that enables a realtime link between design programming and machinic behaviour.

Approach: Emergent Material Formations
Using custom-designed and innovative hardware setups incorporating sensory inputs and motor control, the workshop aimed to propose alternatives to digital fabrication technologies using traditional methods of additive, subtractive or formative material processes. As the programmable fabrication devices that were developed enabled the direct response to sensory inputs, the method of creating building elements or structures was influenced through systems of behavioural rules. Rather than scripting geometrical patterns of formation as in traditional uses of digital fabrication, these behavioural rule systems were used to direct machinic fabrication towards certain performance criteria scenarios, in which the material configurations were emergent.

Design Brief: Environmentally Responsive Structures
The goal of this workshop was to test and develop an increasingly refined prototypical system for the robotic fabrication of material formations. Using a setup consisting of design scripts, machine programming, a custom designed fabrication device and specific method of material formation, students teams choreographed the creation of material structures that demonstrate that their formation has been influenced by external inputs such as sound or light.

Media & Methods: Hardware and Software
The workshop started with tutorials on programming and building customized robotic devices. Using the open-source electronics prototyping platform Arduino, which is based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software, student teams were encouraged to benefit from and contribute to a large on-line community sharing previous experiences with interactive objects or environments. Besides the pre-ordered electronics and hardware, students used the AA’s lasercutting facilities to produce machine components.

Results from this workshop were published and exhibited as part of the ‘Spontaneous Schooling’ exhibition and book publication by Nous Gallery for the London Festival of Architecture.
(Nous Gallery, TEA Building, Shoreditch, 18 June – 4 July 2010 London)

Alan Mclean
Peter Lin
Dahny Huang
Alejandro Mieses

Sanhita Chaturvedi
Patrick Farley
Riddhi Parakh
Atta Pornsumalee
Poonam Sardesai

Seo Yun Jang
Thiago Mundim
Jian Chen
Kevin Kim

Kyle Chou
Brendon Carlin
Elina Pattichi
Afra Farry