Large-span Self-Supporting Assemblies

Despite their structural efficiency, the construction of long-spanning curved surface architecture in concrete or discrete masonry components is costly and thus rarely feasible. The reasons for this include difficult on-site logistics, high labour costs and a waste of resources due to the elaborate temporary support structures and formwork needed during construction. We are researching solutions to this problem by building in stable sections assisted by on-site robotics to drastically reduce or even eliminate the need for (temporary) foundations, scaffolding and falsework.
By using robotic processes, path planning and control systems, we will assemble self-supporting structures that act as lost or reusable formworks for concrete casting. By keeping the space underneath such a construction unobstructed, we allow parallel construction work to take place, this speeding up the entire construction process. A key research challenge will be measuring the as-built conditions, accommodating deviations from CAD data, and responding to complex structural interactions and deformations during assembly.
We aim to efficiently erect complex forms from mainly standardised, prefabricated elements with the help of mobile manipulators. As a result, faster, safer and more precise building processes will be possible, opening up opportunities to rethink the use of traditional and/or manual construction techniques in today’s building processes that can offer ecological and architectural advantages.

Lead PI: Stelian Coros

Contributing PIs: Philippe Block, Melanie Zeilinger, Marco Hutter, Mark Pauly

Photo credit: Andrei Jipa

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