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THE NEXT PHASE
The issue spans the digital to the physical, the small scale to the large scale, from materials to
construction and design to performance, offering a glimpse at the future role of autonomous
assembly in architecture. It proposes a long-term vision whereby humans, robots and materials can
collectively build structures through local interaction rather than top-down centralised control, with
potentially more robust, adaptive, faster and more scalable construction. This emergent assembly
process may lead to new design possibilities that are currently impossible to realise with manual
assembly, such as physically evolving design solutions and continuously reconfiguring structures. Or
remote construction capabilities where buildings can be assembled from a distance on hard-to-reach
sites, where conditions are dangerous, or expensive and constrained, for example in urban locations.
The next step for designers will be the development of smarter assemblies, with materials that come
together spontaneously, adapt to the environment, transform themselves, and embed capabilities
within our structures that enable them to get better with time. Autonomous assembly is thus set to
change the future of construction, from the bottom up. 1
Text © 2017 John Wiley & Sons
Ltd. Images: © pp 6–7 © ICD
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