Bricks are known for their strength and impenetrability—not necessarily for their light and airy look. But a Swiss firm has created just that, stacking bricks into a sculptural helix-like lattice that zig-zags across the front of a building. And they did it with the help of a robot.
The architectural firm Gramazio Kohler used the assistance of a robot arm to precisely assemble these bricks into a striking and almost gravity-defying pattern. It appears as if the bricks have simply been meticulously stacked alongside the two-story structure.
Claudia Luperto Fotografie
Besides the robotic assistance, there’s also a trick in the bricks themselves. These bricks have a special hollowed-out honeycomb structure in their centers (similar to engineering for aerospace design that keeps the bulkiest material in planes lightweight) and can stack high when connected with adhesive joints.
Gramazio Kohler helped to develop the robot arm named ROBmade, which positions and glues the bricks into the facade patterns. These structures wouldn’t be impossible to create without the robot’s help, but it sure wouldn’t have been as easy.
Robots have been pretty busy in Gramazio Kohler’s studio over the last few years. Some of their projects are quite small but you can start to see how this idea of robot-stacked architecture might work on a larger scale by turning the floors of buildings into building blocks. Prefab skyscrapers are already a reality, where units arrive at the site pre-assembled, now they could have their units arranged, Jenga-style, into these undulating walls.
Here are some more videos of robot-assisted building from the same firm, using acoustical tiles, folded paper, and 2x2s of wood. They’re all pretty amazing to watch.