This example of programmable architecture uses lightweight materials and drones to help it adapt to environmental changes.
Three graduate students over at University of Stuttgart's Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) recently unveiled a modular architectural canopy that can be reconfigured in real-time, using drones. Watch:
Dubbed Cyber Physical Macro Material, the 2.5-metre (8.2-foot) high canopy is designed as a "new dynamic (and intelligent) agile architecture for public spaces," which can respond to weather conditions. Built with lightweight carbon fibre filament, magnets and a variety of sensors and processors, the canopy demonstrates the possibility of 'live' construction processes, facilitated by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The combination of what the team calls "distributed robotic construction machines and a programmable digital building material" makes the approach more versatile, says the team:
The resulting architectural system is capable of autonomous rearrangement and stagnant operation driven by behavioral design patterns rather than a singular robotic assembly or construction method.
The team's research builds on previous prototypes built by ICD/ITKE, which explored the possibilities of bio-inspired, robotic construction methods along with avant-garde materials.
In the Cyber Physical Macro Material pavilion, twenty units of building material were paired with two drone 'builders', which were programmed to react to changes in sunlight, either automatically or via a smartphone app, by moving pieces of building materials around. For instance, if the sunlight became too strong, the drones could then move around pieces of the canopy to provide users with more shading.
It's tantalizing to imagine structures capable of adapting and transforming themselves on the fly, to respond to what's happening around them. The team says that in the future, similar work will pave the way for robot-assisted architecture that can 'learn' from its environment, or from users' behaviour, using machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence). To find out more, visit Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE).