High tech / Low tech: Tectonic machines, earth-built traditions, and constructing the exigent city

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

With continuous advancements in the performance and economics of mobile/remote technologies and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems comes an increase in the plausibility of semi-autonomous construction devices for deployment in response to large-scale humanitarian disasters. Robotic building-making machines capable of continuously and safely erecting replacement housing, urbanistic architecture required for resettlement economies, and semi-permanent "emergency cities", represent our enormous technological potential to better the lives of people currently living in Refugee/Internally Displaced Person (IDP) status around the world (estimates range from 33 to 175 million people). In addition to producing homes and marketplaces, these Tectonic Machines act as digital-mechanical extensions of our human sensibilities with regards to architecture. They must be designed to address the cultural and communal alienation of displaced populations through extreme accommodation in systematically producing a variety of vernacular building types using traditional/local materials. This paper will report on the development of a specific type/model of Tectonic Machine being designed for disaster preparedness and response. The Shokushu Machines are mobile, robotically variable formwork/falsework for use in 'molding' buildings, specifically where low-tech/no-fire ceramic construction traditions (such as cast earth or sun-baked mud) coincide with large-scale humanitarian relief operations. Globally, this is a geographic operations area that includes Mexico and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Currently, the world's largest IDP camp - located in Northern Kenya - holds 290,000 displaced people in a 50 sq km environment entirely hand-built of mud. Challenges include: cultural adaptation and technological systems interface, maneuverability, auto-configuration, and renewable power sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages851-856
Number of pages6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011
Event28th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction, ISARC 2011 - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Jun 29 2011Jul 2 2011

Other

Other28th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction, ISARC 2011
CountryKorea, Republic of
CitySeoul
Period6/29/117/2/11

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Building and Construction

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