Architectural Design Workshop — Robotic Force Printing: Shanghai

Permission of instructor

Robotic additive manufacture and assembly of novel shell structures

Over the course of three weeks, participants from both Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tongji University will work together to design, develop and build a full-scale robotically manufactured shell structure in Shanghai, where they will be developing hands-on skills to integrate programming, structural design exploration, digital fabrication, and robotic assembly. The workshop explores novel shell structures leveraging advances in additive manufacturing and robotic fabrication, equilibrium-based methods of structural design and assembly, and the design opportunities enabled by their integration.

Participants are expected to possess a good handle on 3D modeling and computational design, preferably with working knowledge of Python, and experiences in digital fabrication and prototyping. Participants of all levels of expertise in structural design and analysis and robotics are welcomed. Students will be exposed to computational tools, techniques and workflows to engage with the robotics-enabled design exploration using the open-source COMPAS framework, an open-source, Python-based computational framework for collaboration and research in architecture, engineering and digital fabrication.

Instructors & Teaching Assistants

ETH Zurich
Prof. Philippe Block
Kam-Ming Mark Tam
Gene Ting-Chun Kao
Dr. Matthias Rippmann

Tongji University
Prof. Philip F. Yuan
Liming Zhang Hua Chai
Dr. Xiang Wang

All workshop inquiries should be communicated via email to all 3 addresses listed below:

Kam-Ming Mark Tam: tam@arch.ethz.ch
Xiang Wang: 18310021@tongji.edu.cn
Zain Karsan: zkarsan@mit.edu


Tongji University, Shanghai, China


Jan. 7-8: Arrival in Shanghai
Jan. 9-10: Computational Workshop
Jan. 11-14: Field Trip to Sichuan Province
Jan. 15-16: Research & Prototyping
Jan. 17-18: Design Charrette & Competition
Jan. 19-20: Free weekend
Jan. 21-23: Development (design to fabrication)
Jan. 24-29: Robotic Fabrication
Jan. 30-31: Assembly & Installation
Jan. 31: Final Review
Feb. 1: Departure from Shanghai (note: MIT spring term starts Feb. 4, 2018)

Learning Goal

In this workshop, students can expect to be exposed to the following topics:

  • COMPAS, which is an open-source computational and comprehensive design framework
  • basic computational form-finding methods to design and explore compression and bending-active shells
  • strategies to combine traditional construction material system with novel digital fabrication methods and materials
  • prototyping of material systems and detailing
  • equilibrium-informed strategies for shell discretization to reduce form-work requirements
  • robotic-enabled additive and subtractive manufacturing methods
  • assembly logics and construction sequencing

The state-of-the-art robotic fabrication setup made available for the workshop includes:

  • Multi-external-axes dual-robotic work station (work range: 12m x 8m x 4m)
  • KUKA KR6R900 robots (work range: 0.9m radius

Workshop Size

8 students from MIT will be selected to attend the workshop — to be joined by students from Tongji University.

Costs Covered

The following costs are covered by the workshop sponsors:

  • round-trip ticket between Boston and Shanghai
  • accommodation in Shanghai
  • protyping and construction materials
  • travel and accommodation expenses for the field trip to Sichuan Province

Application Instructions

All graduate Course 4 students in the Department of Architecture are invited to apply. To be considered in the participants selection process, an application compiling the following material is required:

  • Resume: highlighting your background and experiences on the recommended skills outlined in the abstract:
  • E.g.: 3D modeling, parametric modeling, Python scripting, digital fabrication, robotic control, etc.
  • Design portfolio: Maximum 6 pages in pdf format.
  • Short motivation letter (below 500 words)

All applications should be submitted via WeTransfer. Please include all 3 email addresses listed below as recipients:

Additionally, the transfer should be sent using your institutional email address (xxxxxxx@mit.edu) with 'Application to Robotic Force Printing' as the submission message. Upon receipt of your application, a confirmation email will be sent to you.

The deadline of the application is the end of the day Friday November 23, 2018  
Candidates will be notified of the selection results by Sunday November 25, 2018