In a context of demographic explosion, resource scarcity and global warming, the construction sector needs to evolve towards faster, cleaner, more efficient and more customisable building systems. On the other hand, the current trend of Industry 4.0 promises groundbreaking technologies: robotics, accurate sensors, computational design, AI and cyber physical systems that could potentially transform the way we design, build and inhabit tomorrow. 

Focusing on the wood industry, huge quantities of leftover pieces from sawmill and manufacturing are considered waste, often used for energy recovery by burning it, or worth, just discarded in landfills. On the other hand, computer vision could catalogue this “waste” and allow it to be integrated in flexible digital production systems such as robotic ones. This extra sense allows for automated design and manufacturing processes to adapt to each material input, resulting in a system that can handle otherwise unused material, to produce products that are each one different, yet adapted to their function. Towards robotic craftsmanship.

This seminar proposes to explore the design potential lying in an heterogeneous stock of recycled wood that could be upcycled into a constructive project using computer vision, computational design and robotic fabrication ; creating an automated process that adds value to a material normally considered as waste. 

Students can expect to learn and practice technology necessary to execute such project : computer vision algorithms, stock nesting, computational design of wood assembly, Robotic path planning and wood process that can be automated

The seminar is structured in two phases. In the first term students will work in small groups and explore different design to fabrication options, concluding each with a possible project proposal, in a competition-like format (with render, detail, budget and calendar). In the second term students will work as one collective toward the engineering and production of one large scale prototype.


Learning Objectives 

At course completion the student will learn to : 

  • Manage an architectural project from design to construction, incorporating digital data flows and automated processes.
  • Apply Computational design principles to create mass-customised products based on material inputs.
  • Apply Computer vision algorithm into a specific application of fabrication
  • Apply Robotic fabrication process in an architectural project.
  • Develop design and technology for a circular economy. 


Projects from this course

Robotic Fabrication

Robotic Wood Craft is looking to minimize the raw material foodprint through an efficient repurposing project. The project develops a Data workflow from the scanning of the logs to the Robotic Fabrication and assembly of the pavilion. The final prototype is a post tension structure, with different robot milling joints that maintain the connection in … Read more

Post Tension Wood

Post Tension wood is a project created in different steps. Extracting logs from trees from 12 – 15 diameters, this project scans each piece with the purpose of optimizing the fabrication and reducing the waste. Workflow Set Up & Calibration Production plan

Robotic Woodcraft – Team I

Context This blog documents the negotiation of a System of Scan to Fabricate workflows related to dealing with irregular raw materials, Namely offcuts from the saw-mill logging industry and  CNC – Offcuts in the digital fabrication workshop.  A negotiation between design input and the raw material topology necessitates research. With each material presenting unique Opportunities … Read more

Robots and Grains

The state of the art shows our pursue to develop organic geometries using   Hyperboloid as design geometry The design takes advantage of the offcuts grain to create a rigid waffle-like structure. Horizontal and vertical members and then connected through notches and screws to stiffen the system. The outer horizontal members of this grid present bark … Read more