Robots use recycled bricks to build sinuous and striking Shanghai art studio

A crack team of robots have comprehensively renovated a community art gallery in Shanghai, predominantly using recycled bricks.

The innovative project is the work of Chinese design studio Archi-Union Architects, who programmed the robots to build a new exterior facade for the West Bund Art Exhibition Area in the city’s Xuhui district.

Grey-green bricks were taken from the existing gallery building, which had been deemed unfit for purpose, and carefully placed by a series of mechanical arms to construct a curving, heavily textured exterior.

Advanced digital fabrication technology, developed by robotics studio Fab-Union, was used to map out the complex masonry of the building. According to Archi-Union, the resultant “manipulated form” could not have been achieved through traditional construction methods.

“Introducing robotic technology into building construction is the most exciting part of this project, and it is an innovation in how we use basic building elements,” the studio’s lead architect, Philip F. Yuan, told CLAD. “As Mies van der Rohe said: ‘Architecture starts from putting two bricks together.’

“Material and construction is the basis of architecture, but robotic technology can revolutionise how we approach that. The combination of traditional culture and modern technology has many possibilities. Instead of doing some cold, theoretical research, we want to apply this technology. This project provided a good opportunity for us to show our work.”

The 199sq m (2,100sq ft) gallery is owned by artistic group Chi She, who wanted the small space to feel expansive and harmonious like their creative work.

In response to this brief, Archi-Union elevated the roof of the original building using a lightweight wood structure, and installed a series of skylights. This provided “a delicate and abundant compound art space for various artistic events and unpremeditated communication.”

The cost of the project was just US$220,000 (€206,800, £180,000).

Yuan said that robotic construction can “meet the requirements of the new era” by allowing us to use traditional and recycled materials in ways that were previously impossible.

He added: “This project uses the dilapidation of old bricks, coordinated with the intricate curving wall display, to narrate a story of people and bricks, machines and construction and design and culture.

“This story will remain here as long as the shadows of the external walls spread out under the setting sun.”

Robotics  architecture  design  Shanghai  Chi She  Archi-Union Architects 
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A crack team of robots have comprehensively renovated a community art gallery in Shanghai, predominantly using recycled bricks. The innovative project is the work of Chinese design studio Archi-Union Architects, who programmed the robots to build a new exterior facade for the West Bund Art Exhibition Area in the city’s Xuhui district. Grey-green bricks were taken from the existing gallery building, which had been deemed unfit for purpose, and carefully
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Advanced digital fabrication technology, developed by robotics studio Fab-Union, was used to map out the complex masonry of the gallery
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