Digital Materiality & Meet R-O-B

I attendended the opening of a new exhibit at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. The exhibit is called Digital Materiality: Bridging the Realms of the Virtual and the Physical.

It features the robotic arm called R-O-B Robotic Fabrication Unit, and it was parked outside the Storefront for Art and Architecture. It looked like a secret box containing some mechanical beast that will eventually be unleashed to build the installation called Pike Loop; along Pike Street between Division Street and East Broadway.

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It was interesting to watch the video of R-O-B (see previous post) performing the tasks along side humans. The only video that was worth watching was the one where R-O-B was building these column like wood structures. The human counterparts involved were responsible for cutting the wood. R-O-B would then pick up the cut piece of wood and place it strategically as programmed. And then another human counterpart nailed it down. The interesting thing about R-O-B’s involvement was that it was a robot arm that laid the material at the precise location with ease. Whereas if it was constructed completely by humans, there would be alot of planning and preparing before the material would be placed.

This of course opens up a dialogue of buildings becoming products that can be manufactured by machines. Or, that buildings could have the potential to be built with accuracy and precision as designed and drawn by Architects and Engineers on the computer. Can you imagine the possibilites? And why not?

The exhibit and methodology reminds me of these other similar type of machines known as CNC (computer numerical controlled) machines. These machines are used to carve out parts from materials (or wood), and then assembled together by humans for mass and/or limited quantity production pieces. The CNC machines are commonly used in many furniture manufacturing companies.

Now, if only R-O-B and the CNC machine can be used together to make an ultimate fabrication and building machine!

This is quite an interesting exhibit and look forward to the construction of the Pike Loop which commences on Monday October 5. I’ll most likely visit the project site during my lunch break and take pictures of it’s progress and post them here. Stay tuned.

For more information about this exhibit; please visit the following websites:

www.dfab.arch.ethz.ch
www.gramaziokohler.com

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