Industrial robots are fascinating architects, artists, and designers due to their complex kinematics and fluid, close to humanlike motion, but they are still not yet relevant tools in the design to production process. In the scope of this fundamental research we aim to investigate approaches that allow designers, artists, and architects to appropriate industrial robots as intuitive design tools.
We will research how architects and designers can virtually and physically interact with robots, allowing immediate relationship between design and motion as an output, and how the robots’ inherent multifunctionality can be applied in an arts-based context, especially in relation to wood. Similar to the multifunctional robots, wood is an especially diverse material that can perform a wide range of tasks and is available in various forms and sizes, from glue-laminated timber to wood polymers. We therefore consider industrial robots ideal machines for interacting with wood, as they are not limited to subtractive fabrication, but can bend, weave, glue, spray, etc.
As a cooperative effort of architects with a significant background in robotics, master carpenters with decades of experience with wood, mathematicians with elaborate knowledge of geometry, and practicing designers, this transdisciplinary project aims to investigate interfaces and robots as instruments for artists, designers and architects to play with the geometry of motion and to couple this multifaceted machine with the similarly diverse material wood. By considering fabrication and wood immanent constraints in a digital environment, virtual prototyping will liberate architects and designers in design and design evaluation.
Industrial robots are therefore researched in this project as a playful tool, not as a replacement for the artist´s arm or a production-machine. By seeing industrial robots as powerful and intuitive tool we aim to move creativity to new frontiers in wood geometry and craft, in tool collaborations and human-environment interactions that are far beyond file to factory.