Chicago Architecture Biennial

Rock Print

John Hill
7. October 2015
Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zürich + Self-Assembly Lab, MIT, "Rock Print" (Photo: Gramazio Kohler)

The contribution of Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich, and the Self-Assembly Lab, MIT, to the Chicago Architectural Biennial is an installation they call "the first architectural construction built by robotic machines using only rocks and thread, without any adhesive and mortar."

Professors Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler are known for their experiments with robots, such as brick walls assembled by robotic arms or quadrotor helicopters. Those and other installations often involve adhesives for structural stability, which makes Rock Print so exceptional. Free of any glue or mortar, the dry construction uses gravity, texture and what the team describes as "the self-aggregating capacities of the material itself" to hold its form — a four-pointed star at the top descending to four legs at the bottom.

Those curious about how it really went together should watch the video at bottom, which reveals, among other things, how Rock Print wasn't built by robotic machines alone.

Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zürich + Self-Assembly Lab, MIT, "Rock Print" (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

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