People sometimes raise their eyebrows at the claim that bricks are green, because of the energy needed to fire them. But they use a lot less energy than they used to, they last almost forever, they are recyclable, they have great thermal mass and are very low maintenance. Unfortunately the craft of bricklaying isn't what is was, and Eladio Dieste or Antonio Gaudi would have trouble finding trades today.
Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler have been doing important work to change all that, developing robots that can lay bricks in ways that would impress Eladio. They even got their portable robot to build a wall in Manhattan two years ago. But robots weren't innovative enough for them; now, with Raffaello D’Andrea, they are building a twenty foot high tower with little robotic helicopter bees.
It is in fact a scale model of a much larger project, a 600 meter high "vertical village". They explain in a press release:
Belonging to the generation of young architects aiming at using the full potential of digital design and fabrication, Gramazio & Kohler joined with Raffaello D’Andrea whose work addresses ground-breaking autonomous systems design and algorithms.
Together, they started to explore the possibilities of a revolutionary assembly apparatus and reveal with their collaboration unseen spatial and structural articulations based on the innovation of Flight Assembled Architecture.
Conceived as an architectural structure at a scale of a 600 m high “vertical village”, the installation addresses radical new ways of thinking and materializing architecture as a physical process of dynamic formation.
Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello D’Andrea developed a powerful expression of cutting-edge innovation that uses a multitude of mobile agents working in parallel and acting together as scalable production means.
Those are programmed to interact, lift, transport and assemble small modules in order to erect a building structure that synthesizes a rigorous architectural approach by Gramazio & Kohler and a visionary autonomous system design by Raffaello D’Andrea.
The little choppers will assemble 1500 "prefabricated polystyrene foam modules. the exhibition will feature a “megastructure” in its completed form, along with a film documenting the airborne assembly and all aspects of the exhibition."
Just imagine, no more big trucks carrying building materials through the city, just millions of little busy bees carrying materials to the site and assembling a complicated building all by themselves. Just be sure to wear your hardhat when you go outside. More at Dezeen and Gizmag