Self-Assembly Lab

Rock Printing

Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich and the Self-Assembly Lab, MIT install "Rock Print," a 3D printed rock installation in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015 (October 3, 2015 - January 3, 2016)

Using innovative robotic technology, Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland) and the Self-Assembly Lab, MIT install a 3D printed rock installation in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015.

A specifically designed algorithm guided a robotic arm in a three-dimensional "rock printing" process. With the precision that only a robot can provide, it positioned a textile filament layer-by-layer around which loose granular material formed a distinctive shape. The self-aggregating capacity of this digitally crafted design configuration results in a large-scale architectural artefact that requires no additional support elements.

Going far beyond the manual assembly techniques of dry masonry, this endeavor presents a unique combination of state-of-the-art digital design and fabrication technology with building material science. It introduces a sustainable, economical, and structurally sound construction method that fundamentally challenges conventional architecture.

Rock Print team
Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler, Skylar Tibbits, Andreas Thoma (project lead installation), Petrus Aejmelaeus-Lindstroem (project lead research), Volker Helm, Sara Falcone, Lina Kara'in, Michael Lyrenmann, George Varnavides, Jared Laucks, Carrie McKnelly, Stephane de Weck, Jan Willmann.

Selected experts
Prof. Dr. Hans J. Herrmann and Dr. Falk K. Wittel (ETH Zurich), Prof. Heinrich Jaeger and Kieran Murphy (Chicago University)

Selected consultants
Walt + Galmarini AG

Support
The project is supported by ETH Zurich and the Department of Architecture as well as by an ETH Zurich Research Grant. It is co-supported by MIT's Department of Architecture, the MIT International Design Center, and an MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI) Grant.

Rock Printing