Publications / 2019 Proceedings of the 36th ISARC, Banff, Alberta, Canada

Adaptive Automation Strategies for Robotic Prefabrication of Parametrized Mass Timber Building Components

Oliver David Krieg and Oliver Lang
Pages 521-528 (2019 Proceedings of the 36th ISARC, Banff, Alberta, Canada, ISBN 978-952-69524-0-6)

This paper presents applied research into automated and adaptive robotic prefabrication strategies for a generative platform design enabling mass customized, mass timber modular construction. The development is part of an ongoing effort by the company to bring a holistic approach of design-driven modular mass timber housing and advanced prefabrication techniques into the market of urban densification. The presented work is currently developed for the delivery of two mass timber housing projects with four and 12 storeys, the latter acting as a case study in this paper. In the first part, the paper explains the possibilities and challenges of large-scale robotic fabrication in timber construction as well as strategies for embedding robotics within a digital design workflow. The focus will be on the required change in the industry’s design thinking for automation strategies to be effective. In the second part the development of an adaptable construction system suitable for robotic automation will be presented. We argue that while automation of conventional assembly steps might be suitable in some cases, the construction system, and ultimately the individual building parts, must be developed in reciprocity with the capabilities, or the design space, of the machine. The authors share their experience of the application of such an integrated process and its requirements towards the collaboration between, and the automation of, design, construction, engineering, and manufacturing. In its conclusion, the authors argue that a long overdue paradigm change in the architecture and building industry can only be achieved through the complete convergence of all disciplines.

Keywords: Robotics; Prefabrication; Timber construction; Mass timber; Automation; Modular building; Computational design; Digital fabrication; Affordability; Platforms for life;