Robotic Fabrication for Non-Standard Architecture: Code in Architecture from Alberti through Modernism to Non-Standard
The University of Sydney (2014-present)
The line of inquiry considers the non-standard architecture in relation to non-standard ecritureand its translation into the figurative or digital and the formal or built – in the modes of production, aesthetics, historical value and use: How did theoretical and design strategies transform as culturally coded expression of knowledge in architecture from Alberti through Modernism to Non-Standard Architecture? The question considers non-standard concretization and concerns the concept of optimization in size, shape and topology as an integral element in reduction of concrete material and an improvement in non-standard architecture analysed within an algorithmic description and the application of automation.
Devised through codification, the thesis explores new approaches for achieving the non-standard in the form of algorithm for optimized non-standard geometries in mathematical model that can deliver efficient curvature for construction, proposing that current thinking and practice in automated robotic fabrication owes much to Alberti’s early theorisation of coding for mass production of identical units. The roots of parametrization are found in Alberti. To highlight the limits of the non-standard, the thesis focuses on developments in functionally graded concrete optimization for automated fabrication using a spraying method.
Preliminary research for this thesis established that there are foundational limits to the manner in which the non-standard has been conceptualised in architecture – from figurative into formal, specifically in its relationship to mainstream modernism. On the one hand, there are evident parallels between classical, baroque, modernist and non-standard modes of codification, and their implications and applications to architectural design, production and manufacture. On the other, the foundational conception of space used in Non-Standard discourse has remained Euclidean and orthogonal that is modernist across these different historical phases.
Differential geometry initiated as a shift toward non-Euclidean, non-standard formal typologies in architecture as early as the late eighteenth century. Recently, robotic methods have been adopted to realise such geometries. However, robotic fabrication remains constrained by technical, instrumental limits that could be traced back to the Euclidean, standard bases of spatial conception and subsequent manufacture.
Consequently, there is a gap between the figurative and formal possibilities offered by digital technologies in architectural design and the current reality and capacities of the building industry to realise them. One distinct area in which very little research work has been done is related to optimized non-standard concrete structures which research explores and argues for the application of functionally graded concrete to the non-standard form.
Digital research undertaken on algorithms integrating geodesic, principal and asymptotic curve show easier construction of complex architectural geometry. The research further devise and test the application of concrete material within an automated robotic prototyping process to realise pilot versions of non-standard architectural components. Customized architectural elements are designed and developed in ultra-high performance concrete and functionally graded concrete. The practical experiments undertaken show that spray end-effector method integrate optimization and is most efficient fabrication method for functionally graded concrete.
The significance of this research lies in its redefinition of non-standard architectural codification, production and construction processes that extend capacity of existing skills and technologies to achieve formal result and material innovation. The second degree of significance is concerned with environmental sustainability where non-standard construction component weight is minimised with performance, topology and shape optimization.
 The Non-Standard is a term that entered architectural discourse in 2003 following the exhibition Architectures non Standard at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Non-Standard Architecture refers to the emergence of the new digital operations in architecture that encompass the complexity of design where geometry and production occur simultaneously in mathematical models, achieving singularitiesthrough differentiation processes and the complexities of natural morphogenesis.
 The language supporting the idea if its non-autonomy is explored in Derrida’s Différance, Jean-Jacques Lecercle’s The Remainder and Deleuze and Guattari’s Abstract Machine. The non-standard ecriture is translated into figurative concept firstly as Deconstructivist form through interrogation process and in mathematics calculated in the Reimann abstract machine.
Note: This thesis is protected by copyright as a literary work and owned by Melika Aljukic. All rights reserved.
PhD © Melika Aljukic, June 2014 - present.