Computer Lays the Prettiest Brick Walls Since Eladio Dieste

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A wavy brick wall by Eladio Dieste.

Federico Negro/ Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

One of the oldest green building materials known to humankind, bricks have great thermal mass and last almost forever. But laying them takes skill, and complex forms and shapes are hard to design and build.

Now Professor Ingeborg Rocker and students at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard have taught a computer to do it.

robotic brick wall overall photo

From Dezeen:

Going beyond the model scale, and working with the Robotic arm set up new design challenges which were tightly linked to the construction techniques, material constraints, and structural limitations encountered in full scale building modus.
Using a modular unit of the masonry brick the team developed a systematic aggregation creating a wall consisting out of 4100 bricks.
The wall's double layered running bond varies from a straight line to a maximum undulation, which creates an inhabitable space.
The emerging space and pattern is the resultant of a set of principles (algorithms) applied to a simple rectangular brick module, taking into account its material and technical parameters.
robotic brick wall assembly photo

But did the Swiss beat them to it?

Commenters on Dezeen pointed to earlier work by Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler of ETH Zurich, who used real brick for an installation at the Venice Biennale

gramazio kohler bienale photo

Alessandra Bello

From Gramazio & Kohler:

The design of the wall followed algorithmic rules and was built on site at the Giardini, the grounds of the Biennale, by the R-O-B mobile robotic fabrication unit. With its looped form, the wall defines an involuted central space and an interstitial space beyond, between the brick wall and the existing structure of the pavilion. Passing from one space to the other, the visitor gains access to the exhibition. Through its materiality and spatial configuration the wall, consisting of 14,961 individually rotated bricks, enters into a direct dialogue with the modernist brick structure from 1951 by Swiss architect Bruno Giacometti.
gramazio kohler robotic wall assembly photo

Eladio Dieste did it the hard way

Fifty years ago, a talented architect could put together a team of masons to build this kind of thing, as Eladio Dieste did with his church in Uruguay.


With computers and robotic bricklaying, this kind of design could become almost common.