To be fair, the ‘hand’ doing the crafting is in fact the extremity of a robotic arm, in turn connected to a highly advanced computer construction – still, the effect is incredibly convincing: these bricks look like they were manually stacked by someone with a great deal of time and expertise on their hands, able to curve them not just in a two-axis wave but in a complex three-dimensional fashion.
The robot itself is the aesthetic opposite of its creations, so far installed for display in cities like Venic and New York. The technology is transported in a functional, bare-bones shack-on-wheels structure from which the single arm arcs out to lift and place linear pieces to slowly form incredible curves.
So what are the odds of you hiring this robotic helper to build your next house (or at least a stunning brick fence to surround your home)? Not great, unfortunately, but this innovative technology is not just about brick-by-brick construction projects – it is one more critical step in exploring the possibilities of integrating digital design, industrial robotics and architectural fabrication.
The goal of this robot – designed by Swiss architects Gramazio and Kohler – involves a vision beyond CNC milling and 3D printing (that can be used to make prefab forms then shipped to building sites) and into the realm of on-site assembly in a future where robots can be programmed to put entire building projects together. Still, what better place to start than with a classic unit of construction material: the basic red brick.