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Timber Construction 4.0. A cyber-physical approach for advanced wood architecture

PhD Anja Kunic

In light of emerging environmental challenges, wood is no longer seen as an outdated material with inferior properties, but rather as the most promising construction material for the future. Wood offers the potential to build a carbon-neutral architecture, providing an immediate solution in reducing CO2 emissions from constructions, while being a structurally efficient lightweight material. However, the current limitations in automation and poor digitalization in the construction industry are drastically reducing its potential as an advanced building material.

This PhD research aims to advance wood architecture, exploring both robotic fabrication for the creation of non-standard timber constructions, and robotic assembly for improved precision and efficiency. More specifically, aspects of circularity of timber construction processes and material use are here explored under the lens of the new automation possibilities. In this context, the research aims at answering the following question:

How can Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing technologies contribute to advancing wood architecture, in terms of higher structural performance (1) smarter material use (2), as well as increasing construction efficiency (3)?

The main hypothesis is that by introducing a cyber-physical system that connects the design environment and robots, we can establish real-time dependencies between design, fabrication and assembly, which in turn can support the effective realization of advanced timber construction. The aim is to introduce a digital and operational framework for Cyber-physical Circularity (CPC) relying on two principles: a continuous data exchange with bi-directional information flow, and establishing a circular material flow.

The work is carried out through research-by-design methods, where various tectonic and structural solutions are explored and tested through computational design and robotic construction workflows for the generation and optimization of circular wood architecture.

Anja Kunic

Supervisor: Roberto Naboni


Last Updated 20.04.2021