ROBOTIC MEDIATIONS: AA Istanbul Visiting School 2018 Review

by Elif Erdine, Programme Head of the Istanbul AA Visiting School
06 March 2019 Istanbul, Turkey     AA Istanbul Visiting School, in collaboration with Istanbul Bilgi University, is a unique learning and making experience. The course introduces participants to the building of a complex systematic structure, and includes software sessions, design seminars, studio tutorials, and lectures by internationally known professionals.   The programme builds on expertise around generative design methodologies and large-scale prototyping techniques from previous years, while bringing together a range of experts from internationally acclaimed academic institutions and practices. This year, Andrew Kudless, an Associate Professor at the California College of the Arts and the founder of Matsys, joined our programme as a Keynote Lecturer and Jury Member. Matsys has exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France.    Initially, participants were organised into design teams, exploring the shared design brief through design experiments and physical scale models. From the outcomes of these experiments, the students and tutors collaborated on one large design, working on the fabrication and assembly of a final prototype with a combination of digital and hands-on techniques.   [caption id="attachment_7780" align="alignnone" width="360"] View of final prototype[/caption] The key objective of the Visiting School was to illustrate the architectural possibilities of using concrete in an unconventional way, together with computational design methodologies, robotic fabrication processes, and material tendencies.   This year, our material research agenda focused on devising an innovative strategy for the efficient use of stay-in-place Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) formwork for in-situ concrete construction, and a novel application of a patented Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) technology. Our objectives focused on the development of efficient assembly of complex form-work generation and concrete application via advanced computational and robotic methods. 
[caption id="attachment_7772" align="alignnone" width="360"] Robotic Hot-Wire Cutting (RHWC) process[/caption] Complex formwork for concrete structures have the potential to yield architecturally diverse and materially efficient assemblies, but with current techniques, form-work waste material is a big concern. Some methods facilitate form-work waste reduction through techniques such as computational optimisation of geometry or fabrication-based techniques such as using adaptive moulds. The research conducted during AAVS Istanbul correlates waste optimisation with geometrical freedom through the selected fabrication technology. We used the production technique of Robotic Hot-Wire Cutting (RHWC), transforming the geometrical and physical principles of machining into design constraints. Digital and physical tests continuously inform each other. The generative design process was informed by our objective of waste reduction, while generating an architectural element with sufficient capacity for formal freedom. This approach necessitated the dismissal of the conventional binary approach that treats pieces of form-work as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ products, but rather explores each fabrication step as producing ‘positive’ modules which become part of the final formal architectural assembly.  [caption id="attachment_7777" align="alignnone" width="360"] GRC shotcrete process[/caption] A custom-devised algorithm built in Grasshopper initially generated variations of double-curved ruled surfaces that are appropriate for hot-wire cutting for individual modules. A set of two unique volumes are generated from each EPS module by separating them along the ruled surface. The algorithm then distributed all the pieces according to a global configuration system where all pieces share overlapped geometries. The assembly information and sequence were also embedded in the algorithm. Finally, all the unique components were produced with a KUKA KR-30 robot and assembled on site.  This on-site construction process was developed by the application of a patented GRC (Glass Reinforced Concrete) technology. A special mixture of GRC is applied onto the surface of the on-site assembled EPS form-work. Three layers of GRC were applied, with the concentration of fibre decreasing with each layer. Initial Finite Element Analysis (FEA) informed the contents of the GRC mixture and the variation of its thickness throughout the global configuration.
[caption id="attachment_7778" align="alignnone" width="360"] GRC shotcrete process[/caption] We theorised the application of a material onto the form-work could aid in the fabrication of a complex geometrical configuration while maintaining self-supporting capacity. This led us to use EPS form-work that is embedded inside the structure. Incorporating RHWC parameters as a driver starting from the initial stages of design development contributed to a strong correlation between design and fabrication phases, moving away from a direct design-to-production approach. Future research will attempt to combine simple mechanical tools and cost-effective fabrication methods with the complex opportunities and limitations of the generative form-finding processes and robotic tool-path generation. AA Istanbul Visiting School is kindly supported by Fibrobeton. Fibrobeton has provided expertise on the innovative concrete spraying technologies they have devised, as well as the necessary form-work material and special GRC mix. We organised an exciting trip to Fibrobeton Factory, located in Duzce, where Fibrobeton engineers introduced us to their know-how and novel GRC technology on-site. Fibrobeton has been heavily involved in the preparations of the course, providing initial prototypes to guide the workflow of the programme. [caption id="attachment_7775" align="alignnone" width="360"] Fibrobeton Factory visit[/caption] AA Istanbul Visiting School 2019, directed by Elif Erdine and Milad Showkatbakhsh, will take place during 17 –28 June.   For more information and applications: AA Istanbul Visiting School brief AA Istanbul Visting School microsite Apply to the AA Istanbul Visiting School 2019   Credits Head of the AA Visiting School: Christopher Pierce AA Istanbul Visiting School Programme Head: Elif Erdine Bilgi University Coordinator: Sebnem Yalınay Çinici Tutors: Aslı Aydın, Cemal Koray Bingöl, Elif Erdine, Gamze Gündüz, Alvaro Lopez Rodriguez, Milad Showkatbakhsh, Benay Gürsoy Toykoç, Yıldırım Erbaz, İlayda Keskinaslan.  Students: Hasan Talha Aksu, Selin Altun, Selen Atapek, Elçin Can, Semra Defteralı, Elif Denker, Elif İkbal Er, Zehua He, Hanting Hong, Ahmet Berk Hot, Ghammaz Husnain, Yazid Hussein, Çağla Kaplan, Elif Cansu Kayıkcı, Jiayun Ke, Waleejah Khan, Fulya Kılıç, Serkan Kocabay, Jiangling Liao, Şaziye Lofcalı, Zeynep Meleksoy, Ayça Özgün, Ebru Şevli, Zhe Sheng, Murat Sökün, Batuhan Uğurtan, Alana Yosun Walsh, Weiran Wu, Mehmet Yıldırım.