Prefabricated Circular Economy Architecture

Student: Ged Finch

Partner: BRANZ

Start Date: 03 May 2018

End Date: 03 May 2021

Duration: 3 years minimum

Digital Manufacturing, Sustainable Practices, Prefabrication, Circular Economy

Affordable computer-aided manufacturing has made possible a new category of timber structure. Components can now be intricately detailed to a high level of precision on a large scale. This approach has meant the increasing use of timber-only joints and more intelligent structural solutions that exploit the inherent qualities of the material. This study suggests that these construction parameters, enabled by computer-aided manufacturing, are advantageous when attempting to eliminate lifecycle building and construction waste. In this research existing and specifically designed digitally-fabricated low lifecycle waste construction solutions are compared to conventional construction techniques. The eventual aim of the research is to realise an advanced construction product that eliminates lifecycle waste and is appropriate for the mainstream building industry.

Robotic Panels

Student: Glen Stricot-Tarboton

Partner: Makers of Architecture

Start Date: 05 March 2018

End Date: 01 March 2019

Duration: 1 year

Robot, Prefab, Mass-Customisation, House Panels, Parametric

The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the potential in using industrial robotic arms to create “parametric” prefabricated panels for homes. Parametric in this case means that any number of panels can be created by altering a few parameters in the software, thus creating another panel with no change in tooling or environmental set up. This project is a scoping project to a) verify that current computational and robotic technology can be brought together to create a new method of production and b) identify the issues for further development.

This project will run as a Master’s of Architecture thesis project at VUW and will, over the course of a year, produce three unique prefabricated panels without human intervention. The software programming, tooling and robot environment will all be designed and configured to create a basic system to create prefab panels.

Robotic Joints

Student: Mikayla Heesterman

Start Date: 05 March 2018

End Date: 01 March 2019

Duration: 1 year

Robotics, Connections, Joinery, Timber, Fabrication, Automation

New Zealand is in the midst of a housing crisis where our current methods of construction are no longer meeting demands in terms of time, cost and structure. In response to this context, this project will employ contemporary digital fabrication technologies to explore innovative and more cost effective connections for customised glulam timber. Most structural failures in complex glulam designs are in the connections rather than the elements themselves. As such, this investigation seeks to utilise improved technologies to increase the understanding of the behaviour of complex components.

The research will draw from traditional wood-only connections in Japanese architecture, and adapt these structurally resilient methods into parametric systems that are viable for contemporary use. These systems will employ robotic fabrication to increase the speed at which connections can be created, the efficiency and precision of the connections, and the structural performance complexity. This level of automation not only creates a more efficient building method, but allows it to be fully customisable for different situations. The research will result in a database of parametric connections suitable for fabrication which can be accessed by the public - ensuring the research can actively impact the industry and encourage increased use of new technology.

3D Freeform Robotic Printing: Part 2

Student: Louise Wotton

Partner: School of Design, Scion Research

Start Date: 05 March 2018

End Date: 01 March 2019

Duration: 1 year

3d freeform printing, robotics, fabrication, biomimicry, parametrics

Biomimicry and natural process will form the base concepts behind the structures built in this project. Thinking of nature in comparison to architecture will begin to bring through the sophistication nature has evolved over thousands of years. Intricate designs of shells, plant structures, nests, bones and muscles are all examples of how nature has optimised structure to withstand external environment factors. Parametric modelling and programming will be used to abstract these strengths and model them as skeletal models ready to be printed. Algorithms and visual programming are used to take these concepts to be read by an industrial robot arm. A new freeform 3d extruder for more flexibility in 3d printing. The algorithms are a key part in ensuring the prints are sequenced correctly and efficiently. After the development of biological models and successful prints, each will be structurally analysed and tested. The fabrication analysis aspect of this research will build a body of work that will inform the structure of a full scale pavilion. Findings from this research will allow further developments in freeform 3d printing, as well as a knowledge base of natural structures which could be replicated to enhance structural performance in an architectural application.

AR On Site

Student: Tayler Hubber-Davis

Partner: Aurecon

Start Date: 05 March 2018

End Date: 01 March 2019

Duration: 1 year

Augmented Reality, Building Information Modelling, 4D BIM, Mobile-applications, Construction Visualisation, Integration

New Zealand’s construction industry has seen a profound uptake in the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM). Even though there has been interest in BIM, successful implementation has been scarce. BIM has proven to provide many benefits to the construction industry but industry workers have limited knowledge or skill in using and accessing BIM information. This is causing BIM to be perceived as lesser value. Augmented Reality (AR) has been identified, in recent years, as a potential tool to enhance the information extraction from BIM. However, current research has yet to prove the effectiveness of integrating these two technologies. Most have been a static approach and implementation still needs validation.

This research works closely with industry professionals (project managers, site managers, architects, builders or engineers) to determine the feasibility of AR in the construction industry and how it may aid in an industry-wide understanding of BIM. After the development of an AR mobile application, it will be tested on a current construction project as a pilot study. This research could ultimately produce sufficient evidence in how AR can be integrated with BIM to improve on traditional construction methods and enhance the information process.

Project X

Student: Emma Fell

Partner: XLam

Start Date: 05 March 2018

End Date: 01 March 2019

Duration: 1 year

Top secret prefab project with XLam in Nelson. More will be shared as it can be.