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Behavioral Robotic Fabrication
Fall 2019
University of Virginia
ARCH 5500-001: Special Topics in Architecture
Ehsan Baharlou, Dr.-Ing.

Behavioral Robotic Fabrication

“A system is “soft” when it is flexible, adaptable, and evolving, when it is complex and maintained by a dense network of active information or feedback loops, or, put in a more general way, when a system is able to sustain a certain quotient of sensitive, quasi-random flow.”

— Soft systems, Sanford Kwinter.


Advances in design computation methods and fabrication processes provide new possibilities for designers to explore the manifestation of form in terms of materialization. Form manifestation can be investigated through behavioral approaches that are associated with basic material characteristics and fabrication parameters. Behavior-based approaches expand the design solution space, which previously was unavailable for designers restricted to top-down processes. Behavioral fabrication is a bottom-up process of integrating fabrication constraints and capacities into design processes.

The elective course “Behavioral Robotic Fabrication” introduced students to behavioral fabrication in architectural design. Students learned basic robotic fabrication processes that have been applied in architectural design thus far. Students were introduced to advanced robotic controls for digital fabrication and explored experimental robotic fabrication processes in art and architectural design. Accordingly, students gained practical experience in robotic fabrication by working with an industrial-scale robot, KUKA KR AGILUS.

This course focused on behavioral aspects of robotic fabrication processes, such as on-line, responsive, or interactive robotic controls. Students investigated different types of robotic fabrication tools (end-effectors) to build a custom end effector. Through sensory systems, students developed a soft system to adapt the physical realm of fabrication to the digital design environment.

Image Credit

G. Brugnaro, ICD, University of Stuttgart, 2015.