TAB 2019

News from our partners. Robots help develop the next generation of architects

Photo: Voxel Chair; authors Gilles Retsin and Manuel Jimenez Garcia

Architectural studies is an area where the involvement of robots to train future generations of architects is nowadays almost inevitable. More and more universities, institutes and research institutions have adopted robot(s) in their daily work. Based on the examples of three educational institutions, we will take a look at what are the advantages of using robots for teaching, science, and research.


Bond University of Australia bought a robot that surpasses hopes 


Robots are used at Bond University in Australia to enrich students’ learning experiences. Bond University’s Faculty of Architecture has praised ABB’s high-performance industrial robot, which the students can use to perform milling, pick-and-place, and drawing tasks in next-generation architectural projects. VIDEO


Bond University is a private school in Queensland, and the graduate architects studying at its Abedian School of Architecture are expected to shift their existing beliefs. The school is world class and provides students with 24-hour access to modern equipment such as 3D printers, CNC routers and laser cutters.

The lab’s newest device is the ABB IRB 6640 robot. The university’s demands for the robot were high: the robot had to be able to perform complex tasks, but to be flexible, easy to use, and yet safe. „Our decision to buy an ABB robot was based on flexibility and price – we got a device that was much more flexible than we originally had hoped,“ says Jonathan Nelson, an assistant professor at Bond University. „With the help of this robot, we can perform a variety of activities including welding, milling, water cutting, stacking and positioning – all this at a relatively low cost.“

„Most robots do one or two activities over and over again, but ours can perform many tasks,“ adds Nelson. „When we described what we wanted, the ABB team did a thorough groundwork to understand what we needed and which security requirements the solution needed to meet.“

Thanks to the addition of a high-tech robot, Bond University is today a member of the the International Association for Robots in Architecture (Rob-Arch).


The ABB robot helps automate architectural education in New Zealand


In New Zealand, Australia’s neighbouring country, the use of robots in architectural studies is also a daily practice. Namely, the architecture students of Victoria University are experiencing the future of digital architecture with the ABB IRB 6700 robot.

The robot lab vision was developed by Kevin Sweet, senior lecturer at Victoria University in Wellington, who had introduced the creation of a similar robot laboratory at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Sweet commissioned a turnkey solution from ABB that met stringent safety requirements to ensure a safe working environment for the students. VIDEO


The robot station is designed for students to explore digital methods of building construction. The robot is equipped with working spindles (FlexFinishing), pneumatic gripper (Festo 80 mm) for picking up objects and can switch between different functions when needed.

„The addition of the robot station to our laboratory provided an opportunity to explore alternative building methods in architecture,“ says Kevin Sweet. „The simplicity and at the same time the versatility of the robot offers countless possibilities. ABB is an incredible co-operation partner and has provided assistance in everything. ”


London’s Bartlett School of Architecture uses innovative robotic 3D printing


The team at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London presented a robotic 3D-printed chair called the „Voxel chair“. It was developed using innovative 3D printing software that can produce uninterrupted printing. The project was carried out by members of the Bartlett Design Computational Lab (DCL). The ABB robot was instrumental in making the chair. VIDEO


With its unique design, the chair designed by DCL stands out from the rest. Contrary to similar models, usually made in layers, the structure of the Voxel chair is characterized by a continuous but non-layered material line. In addition to the aesthetic benefits, the software used allows designers to integrate specific functions and have greater control over what is being created.

„This approach is not only functional in terms of performance, but also offers designers new aesthetic as well as functional options,“ explain DCL co-owners Manuel Jiménez Garcia and Gilles Retsin. „In addition to the shape of the chair, you can also design the properties of the material.“

The chair is made of blue coloured, biodegradable 3D PLA thread, about 2.5 kilometres long.