Robots In + Out of Buildings

New forms of mobility are currently being developed for the transport of both people and goods. From autonomous container ships and trucks, to autonomous buses and cars, to autonomous aerial and land drones, logistics and transportation is being reformulated. These new forms of intelligent motion are already beginning to reshape urban, suburban and rural environments. But little thought is being devoted to how buildings, their circulation and envelopes, and their interconnection to the urban landscape will be transformed by the proliferation of robotic agents whose electric drive trains allow them to move freely around building interiors as well as across thresholds between interiors and exteriors.  The premise of the research seminar is that robotic vehicles promise to alter building typologies no less profoundly that did the elevator and escalator in their respective eras.

• Can spaces be more intensively used as furniture gains location awareness and mobility?  What new spatial arrangements and opportunities are possible?
• How are buildings oriented given the various scales, speeds and rhythms of transportation systems that move around, through, between, and within buildings?
• Do robots enter buildings with people, with vehicles or in new locations?
• Do people and robots share the same circulation spaces within buildings?
• How can mechanical, electrical, plumbing, communication and fire suppression systems be mobilized throughout buildings?
• Can the territory of a building expand and contract throughout the day, season or lifecycle with the introduction of intelligent mobile robotics?


The seminar is devoted to the invention of architectural concepts in response to new forms of mobility.  Previously architecture has been defined as static and function has been defined as dynamic.  Necessary for the formulation of architectural responses to autonomous vehicles and intelligent mobility in and out of buildings is the development of numerical and spatial techniques for the spatial quantification of moving people and things in buildings.  The format of these concepts will be spatial diagrams and generic typologies accompanied by numerical and narrative descriptions.  The diagrams and typological speculations can take the form of digital modelling, simulation, robotic physical models, or working full scale mock-ups.  This will not be a studio and so design tasks will be delimited but there is an expectation that the seminar will culminate in creative architectural opportunities drawn from the research.

Students from architecture and engineering as well as other disciplines are welcome in the seminar.