The United Nations reports that the construction sector accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s total energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
A consortium of Swiss researchers offers a solution in the form of robots. And they illustrate this futuristic concept in the form of the DFAB House, the first liveable structure designed and planned by way of a choreography of digital fabrication methods.
The tri-level building, located near Zurich, offers 3D-printed ceilings, energy-efficient walls, timber beams built by robots on site, and an intelligent home system. Established by an expert team at ETH Zurich university and 30 industry partners throughout a four-year period, the DFAB House–measuring 2,370 square feet (220 square meters)–required 60% less cement to build and has passed Swiss building safety codes.
Matthias Kohler, a representative of DFAB’s research team, asserts that the manner of building a home, and the resources used to do so, now stand central to the architectural process.
In 2014, Chinese company WinSun conducted a massive 3D printing experiment by manufacturing 10 one-story houses throughout the course of a single day. One year later, the Shanghai company printed an additional apartment building as well as a neoclassical mansion, but these home plans are still in the development phase.
The increased speed of building, says Kohler, was not the ultimate goal of the project. Quality and sustainability was.
He also believes, furthermore, that robots will not replace humans in their construction jobs; rather, humans can work with robots to build.
In this advanced robotic technology, the machine’s processes can inspire the design. Digital fabrication will be the wave of the future, as the DFAB House’s ornamental ceiling–developed with a large-scale 3D sand printer–demonstrates.
Benjamin Dillenburger, 3D printing specialist in DFAB’s team, also pointed out that the presence of robots can safeguard the health and well-being of human construction workers.
Kohler and Dillenburger have published their open-source data sets and have put together a traveling exhibition entitled “How to Build a House: Architectural Research in the Digital Age,” set to debut at the Cooper Union in New York this week.
Nader Tehrani, the school’s dean of architecture, hopes that everyone with an interest in building design will attend the free exhibit, which will be open until Oct. 13.
Dillenburger says that the DFAB House is all about the concept of building for the future.