Robots and humans collaborate to revolutionize sustainable architecture

Written by
Liz Fuller-Wright
Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications
Oct. 21, 2020

This spring, two Princeton professors – architect Stefana Parascho and engineer Sigrid Adriaenssens – unveiled their proof of concept for a more sustainable construction process that relies on industrial robots. The result, a doubly curved, glass-brick archway called the "LightVault," was built on-site at a London art gallery.

Robots enhanced the sustainability of their structure in two ways: their strength eliminated the need for forms or scaffolding during construction, and their precision allowed the vault to be doubly curved, which reduced the amount of material required.

The team devised a process in which the two robots worked together to assemble the LightVault. Each robot would place one brick, then hold the structure while the other robot placed the next brick. After the robots finished constructing the central arch together, they switched to working independently, each building one side of the vault. To ensure the stability of the unfinished structure, the bricks were placed such that each newly placed brick would support the next one.

“Construction is energy and material intensive,” said a graduate student who worked on the project. “Future global well-being depends on being able to build strong buildings that are efficient.”

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