ROBOstudio 2009

This studio was situated at intersection of  cybernetics and architecture, questioning the possibilities that cybernetics brings to architecture – what it might mean to have the capability of a responsive and moveable environment. The innovative and performative aspects of architectural design together with basics of robotics and mechatronics were examined first as part of design research phase, with the review of the relevant precedents and design problems following. The ambition of both design problems set (PS) is in attempt to understand and integrate application of robotics, kinetics and mechatronics to architectural design.

Critical nature of the studio

The impact of IT revolution on design practice and its education is now massive due to exponential growth of networks.  It is also due to proliferation of computer aided design in problem modeling and simulation, numerically controlled design fabrication, algorithmic design and now emergence of  the responsive, performative architecture informed by mechatronics and robotics. ROBOstudio reflects the importance of those trends in contemporary design.

Today design can be seen as verb, or action by a system that causes change to its environment, or that can modify itself via information feedback. Clearly architecture need not be static, as it can adapt to the new conditions and the performative feedback loop relationship is its essential aspect.

The problem based interdisciplinary learning environment of the virtual design studio is dedicated to the development of ROBOstudio content, publishing precedents, research, preliminary designs.  ROBO studio is project-based course offered in consultation with an engineering course dealing with Mechatronics and Kinetic Structures. The initial goal was to bring together students of architecture and engineering to explore the possible application of robotics, mechatronics and kinetic structures to architectural projects.

The students researched case studies of applications and advanced technologies in the initial part of the course, followed by the developing and conducting design experiments. The key  question asked is:  How can architecture benefit from using movable elements controlled by sensors? The project work ranged from problem-solving to highly speculative in nature, and emphasize a combination of digital as well as physical aspects.


Architectronic practice of design in a networked environment will be explored in both design projects. The first problem is set to address the issue of essential need and the second one of this of  electronically  assisted metamorphosos and the collective memory.  The students will work in collaboration to produce drawings, computer simulations, animations, and working scale models of all or part of their designs.

PS1 SKIN The responsive building envelope – design and modeling of fragment sensored to perform. The situated skin will formatively adjust itself to the dynamic criteria derived  from human or environment interactions.

PS2 TRANSFIGURATIONS The performative resolution of contested public infrastructure space, e.g. bicycle to boat crossing at Burrard Bridge, homeless emergency shelter to bus stop, bicycle storage to solar collector, etc.  Do you  recall Transformers: Robots in disguise? PS2 was broadly open to students initiative, although the instructors approval prior to design development was required.

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