Myles Sampson
Discrete-To-Complete: The Fundamentals of Design Directed Robotics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Year: 2022 Advisor: Sass
Reader: Stiny

Since building construction is an inherently complex process, the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry has not fully adopted automation into their practices. At the same time, designers have not embraced or considered robotic tools in their creative design processes. This thesis argues that the AEC industry must use automation methods that originate from established manufacturing procedures to expand the creative output of the disciplines. Leveraging architecture, engineering, and construction’s reliance on digital design, Discrete-to-Complete presents an accessible, adaptive, equitable framework for robotic fabrication. Discrete-to-Complete outlines a new method of robotic construction that combines architectural design, discrete assembly, and Shape Grammars for a design-driven method for robotic construction. In a series of robotic fabrication experiments, this research creates a design-directed approach to robotic fabrication, demonstrates the advantages of rule-based assembly processes, and introduces a workflow to fabricate architectural structures using a position based six-axis industrial robotic arm. The first experiment outlines how using a rule-based approach can strengthen design production using robotic fabrication. Through students in an architectural workshop, the second experiment tests the application of rule-based robotic fabrication. In the third experiment, I use attachment features on customized building elements to build an arch. The fourth experiment evaluates self-correcting geometry for architectural building elements. The final experiment applies self-correcting building elements for decomposed architectural structures. By validating Discrete-to-Complete, a shape grammatical approach to robotic fabrication, I introduce the fundamentals of design-directed robotics and generate a comprehensive method of automated construction.