Rock Print

Architectural installation at the Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015 by Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zur ich, and the Self-Assembly Lab , MIT

Project: A unique installation made from reversibly printed matter

The Chicago Architecture Biennial will feature unique projects and installations by over 70 architects from more than 30 different countries, including the Swiss research group Gramazio Kohler Research of ETH Zurich. Working in collaboration with Skylar Tibbits of the Self-Assembly Lab (MIT, Cambridge, USA), Gramazio Kohler Research proposes the first architectural installation to be built from low-grade granular material and constructed by robotic machines. Conceived as an intriguing vertical object, the installation presents a radically new approach to The State of the Art of Architecture – the official title of the Biennial – and brings forward a new category of random packed, potentially fully reusable, poly-dispersed jammed structures that can be automatically fabricated in non-standard shapes.

Following an initial period of robotic assembly, the installation will comprise a large-scale architectural artefact in its completed form, exhibiting distinct features, such as, for example, full material reversibility and the respective reusability of the aggregated materials; structurally active interlocking, differentiated structural performance, while yielding high geometric flexibility and articulation.

Visitors will be drawn to the impressive structural capacity of rocks in a formerly unseen and unexpected (digitally crafted) design configuration. Performing a full scale 3D “rock printing process” that uses the self-aggregating capacities of the material itself, this visionary project is the first collaborative installation by Gramazio Kohler Research and Self-Assembly Lab. The group has been researching this process since 2014, which will be exclusively exhibited for the first time at the Chicago Architecture Biennial.