A three-storey house is under construction near Zurich which was designed and planned using digital techniques, and is now being built using mostly robotic systems and 3D printing technologies. Matthew Stock reports.
Robots and humans working together to construct a new building. Work began recently in Switzerland on a digitally fabricated house using mostly robotic systems and 3D printing. The developers say it's the first of its kind. Here, the Mesh Mould in situ fabricator - a two-metre high construction robot is building steel wire mesh designs. SOUNDBITE (English) MATTHIAS KOHLER, FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL CENTRE OF COMPETENCE IN RESEARCH (NCCR) DIGITAL FABRICATION, SAYING: "In the past we had to construct building with concrete by putting up form work and then filling with concrete from the top. That means basically you construct the building twice... With this project, with Mesh Mould, we address the future needs of building with concrete in a sustainable way. Here, no formwork is required and robots directly build a mesh from metal which becomes the reinforcement of this concrete structure." The wall the Mesh Mould builds will support ceiling slabs manufactured by a large-scale 3D printer. The two upper floors are being prefabricated by robots out of timber slats - a technique the team used successfully to construct their own building. Called the Sequential Roof, it was built by robot-assembly from nearly 49 thousand timber slats. Located outside Zurich the DFAB House aims to test a range of new building and energy technologies under real-life conditions. The goal is to make construction more sustainable and efficient using digital design and planning. SOUNDBITE (English) MATTHIAS KOHLER, FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL CENTRE OF COMPETENCE IN RESEARCH (NCCR) DIGITAL FABRICATION, SAYING: "It's the world's first demonstration of how to bring together different digital fabrication technologies, both from pre-fabrication and on-site robotic fabrication." The DFAB HOUSE is scheduled for completion by summer 2018. The three-storey building, with a floor space of 200 metres-squared, will be home to researchers testing new smart home solutions.