Digital Architecture and Fabrication
Academics work on cutting-edge, applied research driven by new technologies, techniques and state-of-the-art facilities in robotics
Key themes in architectural research are bound together with the distinctive history and personality of architectural study at LSBU.
Our research in digital architecture and fabrication focuses on an emergent area within the practice of architecture, examining and extending knowledge in relation to the utilisation of the computer as an explorative tool within the development of design, and with particular interests on aspects of digital manufacturing. We are researching new relationships and opportunities between contemporary digital systems such as design, modelling, parametric design, and computational design. This is achieved through the examination of how technique-based design or material systems can be developed through spatial, material, formal, and organisational considerations, as well as the requirements of manufacturing.
The Digital Architecture and Robotics Lab is mapped by the Association for Robots in Architecture alongside international institutions that include ETH Zurich, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SCI-Arc, the University of Michigan, IaaC Barcelona, and University College London.
As a teaching-led university in the heart of one of the world's greatest cities, LSBU is well placed to engage in research around the character of metropolitan life. We are concerned with the cultural transformations that reflect the deepening reach of technology, and an awareness of the growing environmental crises and shifts in the global, political, and economic order expressed in urban phenomena. Anticipating the urban future and understanding today's cities, in London and elsewhere, are important challenges for those engaged in the built environment.
LSBU is a top modern university in London for 'impact' (reach and significance) with 73% of our research awarded the highest quality ratings of 4* and 3* - Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.
Our area research has focused on four areas:
- Computational Design and Process Innovation
- Advanced Materials and Constructive Systems
- Robotic Control and Digital Fabrication
- Integrated Digital Design Processes
Research activities concentrate on the development and implementation of digital design processes with advanced fabrication logics for the additive production of highly informed, non-standardised architectonic products.
Parallel to this, we are developing strategies for architectural design that are capable of working with these new production possibilities. These are explored within the teaching process in terms of their architectonic, constructive, and economic potential. In the last two years, an industrial automated robot cell has been developed to support research and teaching, and permit the direct construction of building parts on an architectonic scale. A programme of Architectural Research Lectures addressing these issues was initiated in 2015. It is supported by South London Society of Architects (SLSA) and the South London regional branch of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to promote and develop a digital culture across the School and its staff.
The newly renovated Digital Architecture Robotics Lab (DARLab) at LSBU leverages sophisticated industrial technology to perform architectural fabrication research. LSBU is one of few selected academic institutions around the world utilising robotic automation to perform both subtractive and additive manufacturing processes.
The Multifunction Robotic Platform for Architectural Applications (MRPAA) is a robotic platform able to process different materials with a variety of equipment and tools. This is achieved by using an industrial robotic arm in combination with quick change plates able to easily modify the configuration of the cell depending on the process applied.
We also have a range of 3D printers from multi-material to single material, 3D scanners from Artec, and 3D System for small or large parts.
Research degree opportunities
The research is closely linked to LSBU's School of the Built Environment and Architecture which offers exciting opportunities for postgraduate study. We offer opportunities for postgraduate research leading to an MPhil/PhD. We also offer workshops on digital fabrication and computational design for professional or architectural practices. Students from the RIBA part 2 validated MArch: Master of Architecture course also have access to the laboratories in support of their studies.
The wide range of research activities in the School of The Built Environment and Architecture, together with the mix of academic staff, post-doctoral research fellows and visiting professors, allows us to offer a stimulating and diverse postgraduate environment. Read more about Research Degrees at LSBU.
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