Robot Builds Brick Wall In New York City

A robot is currently building a looping brick wall right in the middle of New York. Over a period of three weeks, passers-by can watch the “Pike Loop” installation in the making on a traffic island. The digitally controlled construction of the sculpture was developed at ETH-Zurich’s Professorship of Architecture and Digital Fabrication.

Robot in a box

Over 7,000 bricks are in Pike Street waiting to be stacked based on complex calculations — not by bricklayers, but by a digitally controlled robot called R-O-B, which is kept in a freight container ready to be transported directly to a building site. As R-O-B has a range of 4.5 meters and the installation is to be 22 meters long in total, the robot moves along the construction site on a flat-bed trailer to enable it to work continuously on the construction of the wall.

More precise than by human hand

The installation in New York exemplifies how, by combining digital design and fabrication tools, the architects can now control the production process in every detail. The resulting buildings therefore exhibit shapes and structures that could never be created by hand — not without an enormous amount of effort, at least. Consequently, the point of Gramazio and Kohler’s research is not to put the bricklayer out of a job. Their latest installation is primarily supposed to be for the purposes of architectural research — a test of the potential and limitations of this production technique with respect to a contemporary design culture, as they put it.

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