Robots and humans collaborate to revolutionize architecture

Two Princeton researchers, architect Stefana Parascho and engineer Sigrid Adriaenssens, dreamed of using robots to simplify construction, even when building complex forms.

“We want to use robots to build beautiful architecture more sustainably,” said Adriaenssens, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and the director of the Form Finding Lab.

So the professors partnered with architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) to create a striking and unique installation for the SOM exhibition “Anatomy of Structure” in London last March. They used two industrial robots provided by U.K.-based Global Robots to build a breathtaking vault, 7 feet tall, 12 feet across and 21 feet long, constructed of 338 transparent glass bricks from Poesia Glass Studio.

Critically, the LightVault reduced resource use in two ways: eliminating the need for forms or scaffolding during construction, and improving the vault’s structural efficiency by making it doubly curved, which reduced the amount of material required. These were only possible because of the robots’ strength and precision.

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