Two industrial robots helped build a glass brick vault for the “Anatomy of Structure” exhibit in London last March. The structure illustrated a concept developed by two Princeton professors that posited robots could be used to simplify complex construction while conserving resources.



“We want to use robots to build beautiful architecture more sustainably,” said Adriaenssens, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and the director of the Form Finding Lab.

So the professors partnered with architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) to create a striking and unique installation for the SOM exhibition “Anatomy of Structure” in London last March. They used two industrial robots provided by U.K.-based Global Robots to build a breathtaking vault, 7 feet tall, 12 feet across and 21 feet long, constructed of 338 transparent glass bricks from Poesia Glass Studio.

Critically, the LightVault reduced resource use in two ways: eliminating the need for forms or scaffolding during construction, and improving the vault’s structural efficiency by making it doubly curved, which reduced the amount of material required. These were only possible because of the robots’ strength and precision.

“I try to find out what robots can do that humans cannot do well,” said Parascho, an assistant professor of architecture at Princeton who developed the idea behind the robotic assembly of the vault. Parascho is the director of CREATE Laboratory Princeton, where CREATE stands for computation and robotics enabling architectural technologies.




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