Masonry building has been around for thousands of years, but recent technological developments like additive manufacturing and other forms of digital and automated fabrication are changing the way we build with materials like concrete, stone and brick. Typically seen as monolithic and massive, Russian design studio Zaarchitects are proposing that "smart masonry" techniques, utilizing parametric tools and robotic construction, be implemented to make a more lightweight, precise, efficient and less bulky product.
In their conceptual Smart Masonry process seen over at ArchDaily, designers Dmytro Zhuikov and Arina Agieieva propose the creation of "minimal surfaces" that have their structural loading requirements optimized by computer, resulting in a mesh of complex, patterned geometries that correspond to this loading pattern, while also serving to reduce the overall mass of the walls. The use of beams and columns would be reduced or eliminated altogether.
Walls and other spatial elements would be divided in "cells" made up of pre-shaped, digitally-cut, rubber-based foam components, dipped in cement and cured in a process called "positive casting." These "readymade masonry units" are then transported onsite and assembled floor-by-floor by robotic arms -- which the designers believe will drastically cut down on the time and labour needed to construct a masonry building, whether through traditional means or even through 3D printing, which can still be very time-consuming.
It's an interesting proposal that, if it gained wide traction, would reduce the amount of concrete poured each year. The building industry worldwide generates a sizable portion of carbon emissions, and currently, cement production accounts for almost 5 percent of those emissions, and a smarter way to build with masonry would be one great way to reduce this problem. To find out more, visit ArchDaily and Zaarchitects.