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Master’s students at the Swiss University ETH Zurich have fabricated and constructed a timber pavilion using robots. As part of their Digital Fabrication course in the University, they developed robotic fabrication techniques with the aim of reducing construction waste. The project was the product of co-operation between the course’s students and professors. The design and construction process took place in the Gramazio Kohler Research lab at the Swiss University.

Courtesy of ETH Zurich

The lattice structure of the pavilion is made of interconnected braced timber, and it is left uncovered from the inside to form window seats and a staircase. On the other hand, the structure‘s outside curved form is entirely covered in wooden shingles. The challenging part of the project was adapting the robot’s technique to the non-standardized materials and dimensions.

Courtesy of ETH Zurich

The designers claim that their structure is the world’s first two-storey wooden pavilion built using robots. “Timber construction has an impressive history of using CNC manufacturing possibilities, but robotic assembly technologies are still very rarely integrated,” said Philipp Eversmann, head of the Digital Fabrication course. “Through automatization techniques and innovative feedback processes, the fabrication system was able to minimize material waste by reacting to different material sizes even during the construction process.” While the ground floor of the pavilion acts as a gathering space or an exhibition space, the top floor with the roof tilted to one side acts as an observation spot.

Courtesy of ETH Zurich

The fabrication, testing, and construction of the pavilion took a five-week duration to be accomplished. The designers are hopeful that their project, which was part of a research on the employment of robots in timber construction, will contribute to the development of robot-fabricated timber frame structures for houses and other large scale projects. Finally, the pavilion will be on display at the Zurich Design Biennale in September 2017.

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