Bricks are hot these days, thanks to new feats in technological wizardry. And this week, you can finally see one of the world’s most interesting technologies in New York’s Chinatown: A computer-controlled brick-laying machine, which has used over 7,000 bricks to build an “infinite loop,” weaving along a pedestrian island.
Designed by architects Fabio Gramazio & Matthias Kohler, the structure took just a month to complete–which might sound like a long time, until you realize that a project like this would have been next to impossible a decade ago. The intricate, minute adjustments required by the undulating brick-pattern would be far to time-consuming and expensive, by hand.
By contrast, the robot here (dubbed “R-O-B”)–which uses technology lifted from the auto-industry–can create the form with almost no errors and no mortar at all. (Can you imagine a bricklayer that would do that, what with the fear of messing up and brining the whole thing down around his head?) The same robot recently built the award-winning installation, Structural Oscillations, at the 2008 architectural biennial in Venice.
The piece sits at the intersection of Pike and Division, and is being sponsored by the nearby Storefront for Art and Architecture. They’ve billed it as the “the first architecture project to be digitally fabricated
on site, at 1:1 scale, in the US.”
That’s architect-speak for “OMG!!”