A semi-transparent brick façade made with augmented bricklaying
Researchers at ETH Zürich and local masons in Greece built a 225 m2 large wavy façade to demonstrate how augmented bricklaying combines the advantages of computational design with the dexterity of humans, supporting an entirely new way of fabrication.
The façade is part of the Kitrus winery in Greece and is currently the largest project entirely assembled on-site with an interactive design system and augmented reality interface. It consists of 13,596 hand lain bricks.
Robotic systems are very suitable to achieve intricate brickwork designs with high efficiency. However, standard robotic arms come with limitations, like mobility and dexterity. Therefore, the Gramazio Kohler Research, part of ETH Zürich, reintroduced craftsmen in the digital design process.
In the construction of the façade, masons are instructed via digital pointers, allowing them to work with spatial precision while preserving and capitalising on their craft and expertise in mortar handling
The interface is designed in such a way that masons understand intuitively where to place the bricks according to the digital design. The systems uses visual-inertial object tracking and real-time feedback.
The design for the brick walls was achieved through a variety of applied mortar heights. In contrast, the individual rotation of the bricks correlates with the amount of the underlying mortar. That way mortar, usually treated as secondary material in the design of fair-faced brick walls, became a defining element in the appearance of the façade.
The result is a wavy, semi-transparent parametric façade, which “reflects the idea of an ever-changing façade pattern resembling the shimmering light of liquid.” Gaps between the individual bricks allow for ventilation and to control sunlight.
Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich
Client: KITRVS Winery / Garypidis
Collaborators: Dr. Kathrin Doerfler (project lead), Daniela Mitterberger, Dr. Timothy Sandy, Foteini Salveridou, Fernando Cena, Lukas Stadlmann, Lefteris Kotsonis, Eleni Alexi, Dimitris Ntantamis
Consultancy: Dr. Nebojsa Mojsilovic, Structural Masonry, ETH Zurich
Selected experts: Dr. Tobias Bonwetsch, ROB Technologies
AR-Tracking-System von incon.ai
Photos: Michael Lyrenmann / Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich