Computational design methods, such as Topology Optimisation, can create an ideal material distribution. This usually results in highly irregular structures that can be fabricated, for example using 3d printing, through directly applying material at the geometric position and quality as needed without extra labor and costs. In timber construction, a similar approach can be conducted through using industrial robots, which can assemble larger chunks of material in a complete digital workflow. This additive fabrication approach and the geometric irregularity create entirely new spatial, structural and joining challenges for timber construction. We therefore want to investigate novel joining techniques, which are integrated with robotic fabrication and develop computational design techniques that allow a highly efficient geometric and qualitative distribution of material. We are planning to demonstrate this technology on surfacic elements, since in architecture generally most of the material is used in floor and wall elements and they often need to be supported on variable conditions. We want to investigate a novel connection system that is optimized / adapted for robotic assembly and that has an increased efficiency at the connection due to geometrical form-fitting. We will also investigate optimization approaches (e.g. shape, size and topology optimization) in combination with multi material optimization (different timber grades and materials (softwood, beech). Our aim is to integrate fabrication logic (e.g. connection angles, minimum and maximum dimensions of timber elements) to the optimization process. We want to answer the following research questions: What are form efficient geometries for robotic assembly techniques? What are structural form efficient geometries? What are the overlapping geometric properties for automated fabrication and structural efficiency? Regarding the developed joint: What are the constraints / limitations and the structural behaviour of the developed joint in terms of structural performance, geometric properties and possible kinematic movements. How can we parametrize the properties of the developed joint so it can be used for design and engineering tools? How can state-of-the-art optimization approaches (e.g. shape, size and topology optimization) be used for structural optimization of surfacic timber elements fabricated with the developed material system? Which methods are suitable? How can the constraints of the developed material system be integrated in state-of-the-art optimization methods? Large-scale tests will enable us to verify the design method and the behavior of the joint in a large structure. We will utilize structural experiments to verify our developed models (both joint properties and overall structural behavior of the fabricated components). 


03.2021 – 03.2023