Flight Assembled Architecture Revisited

GKR Picture

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

The Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture exhibition took place at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by the Norman Foster Foundation last year setting the stage for Gramazio Kohler Research to revisit its ten-year-old Flight Assembled Architecture project, adding virtual inhabitants to the utopian city for 30 000 inhabitants.

In 2012, Flight Assembled Architecture was the first architectural installation assembled by flying robots, free from the touch of human hands. The installation was an expression of a rigorous architectural design by Gramazio & Kohler and a visionary robotic system by Raffaello D’Andrea. Flight Assembled Architecture consisted of over 1500 modules placed by a multitude of quadrotor helicopters, collaborating according to mathematical algorithms that translate digital design data to the behaviour of the drones. In this way, the flying vehicles, together extended themselves as ‘living’ architectural machines and completed the composition from their dynamic formation of movement and building performance.

Within the build, an architectural vision of a 600m high ‘vertical village’ for 30 000 inhabitants unfolds as model in 1:100 scale. This newly founded village is located in the rural area of Meuse, taking advantage of an existing TGV connection that brings its inhabitants to Paris in less than one hour. It is from this quest of an ideal self-sustaining habitat that the authors pursue a radical new way of thinking and materialising verticality in architecture.

For the “Motion. Autos. Art. Architecture.” exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by the Norman Foster Foundation, Gramazio Kohler Research at ETH Zurich has updated the former project by populating the vertical city with autonomous virtual humans in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Siyu Tang, Computer Vision and Learning Group at ETH Zurich. In a juxtaposition between the real and the virtual, the audience of the exhibition witnesses virtual life within the city. Life unfolds in real-time thanks to computer-generated avatars. Each one of them has unique artificial intelligence and walks within the generated architectural environment with its own distinctive movements. Visitors can observe from distance or from a first-person perspective life inside a fully rendered utopia in juxtaposition with the original 6m high 1:100 scale city model.

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