Robotic Fabrication in Wood

This paper by Oliver David Krieg and Achim Menges presents current research into architectural potentials of robotic fabrication in wood construction based on elastically bent timber sheets with robotically fabricated finger joints. Current developments in computational design and digital fabrication propose an integrative design approach contrary to classical, hierarchical architectural design processes. Architecture related fields, such as material science, engineering and fabrication have been seen as separate disciplines in a linear design process since the Industrialization era. However, current research in computational design reveals the potentials of their integration and interconnection for the development of material-oriented and performance-based architectural design.

In the first part, the paper discusses the potentials of robotic fabrication based on its extended design space. The robot’s high degree of kinematic freedom opens up the possibility of developing complex and highly performative mono-material connections for wood plate structures. In the second part, the integration of material behavior is presented. Through the development of robotically fabricated, curved finger joints, that interlock elastically bent plywood sheets, a bending-active construction system is being developed. In the third part, the system’s architectural application and related constructional performance is discussed.

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