Designers Ron Culver and Joseph Sarafian have developed a method of casting concrete in Lycra stretched by robotic arms, which they believe could be used to create radical new architectural forms.
Carried out at the University of California, the Fabric Forms project involves pouring a concrete fibreglass mixture into Y-shaped Lycra sleeves stretched into position by six-axis robots.
"This casting method has implications at various scales in the construction site of the future," Sarafian told Dezeen. "We see it being scaled up to create unique building facade elements or even the primary structure of a building."
Because it is easy to produce, the fabric allows users to create many shapes without having to cast a unique mould every time they produce a new shape.
This lends itself well to parametric design, where dramatic forms can be achieved by digitally altering a set of variables at the design stage.
"Parametric design is increasing the need for variation, much of which goes unbuilt because of traditional construction methods' failure to adapt to new digital technologies," Sarafian said.
"We see Fabric Forms as one of many ways to bridge that gap... It allows us to create compound curvature out of a cast object that would otherwise be destroyed when rigid formwork is removed."
It is also, according to the designers, a more sustainable alternative that would reduce labour and material costs, as well as being faster than traditional construction methods.
"Traditional casting methods are both labour intensive and unsustainable," Sarafian said. "Plywood formwork is often stripped and discarded after concrete has cured."
Read the full story on Dezeen: www.dezeen.com/2016/05/19/ron-culver-joseph-sarafian-fabric-forms-cast-concrete-robotic-arms-construction-method-of-the-future/
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