What every architect wants for Christmas

Small, elegant and highly efficient, Swiss architects are using airborne robots to construct their designs




The long standing image of the tea-drinking, chocolate digestive-consuming builder and all the complaints surrounding his time management skills may soon become little more than the nostalgic musings of a bygone era, thanks to Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler. The architectural team is using flying robots or 'quadrocopters' for the first time to build a 6m high, 3.5m wide 'megastructure' at the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France.

A fleet of quadrocopters (left) will be used to construct Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler's 'megastructure' (right) A fleet of quadrocopters (left) will be used to construct Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler's 'megastructure' (right)

The project is a collaboration between Gramazio & Kohler, systems design and algorithm expert Rafaella D'Andrea and ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich). Over the course of several days, the machines will lift and assemble 1500 polystyrene foam bricks to create a cylindrical structure which will then be exhibited alongside video footage of the construction process in the grounds of the art institution.

The video above of quadrocopters-in-action shows how, with some extremely advanced programming, they move seemlessly and elegantly through the air, miraculously avoiding collisions with one another.

Gramazio & Kohler, Structural Oscillations, at the 2008 Venice biennial Gramazio & Kohler, Structural Oscillations at the 2008 Venice biennial

This is the first time Gramazio & Kohler has used air-born robots, but the team has experimented over the past few years with mechanised construction in its projects. Robot 'R.O.B.' was used to create its award winning Structural Oscillations structure (image above) at the Venice Biennal in 2008 and was also the sole builder of Pike Loop created over four weeks on Pike Street in New York in 2009.

Matthias Kohler and Fabio Gramazio Matthias Kohler and Fabio Gramazio



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