MESH MOULD

Conventional construction methods do not allow for the efficient fabrication of non-standard geometries out of concrete. Mesh Mould addresses this problem by combining formwork and reinforcement into one robotically fabricated construction. With Mesh Mould, complex and structurally efficient geometries can be produced at no extra cost, while construction waste is eliminated from the process.

Non-standard, curvilinear geometries are structurally more efficient than rectangular or planar structures. However, with current means of production, the fabrication of formwork and reinforcement for non-standard concrete geometries is highly labour-, cost- and waste-intensive. Mesh Mould addresses this problem by combining formwork and reinforcement into one robotically fabricated construction system. As such an industrial robot builds up a 3D mesh structure which acts as both formwork and structural reinforcement.

The mesh is sufficiently dense to retain the concrete and shape it. After filling is completed and the concrete is manually trowelled, the mesh structure remains inside the concrete and reinforces it structurally. Thanks to the dexterity and precision of the digitally controlled robot, complex and structurally efficient geometries can be produced at no extra cost, while construction waste is eliminated from the process.

A slender, 12-m-long undulating Mesh Mould wall is the main load-bearing element of DFAB HOUSE. Instead of adding extra material, the undulations stiffen the wall against buckling, increasing its structural performance. The Mesh Mould Wall carries approximately 100 tons of load, coming from the concrete ceiling and the two-story timber unit above.

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Project credits:
Leading investigators:
Prof. Fabio Gramazio, Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication, ETH Zurich
Prof. Matthias Kohler, Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication, ETH Zurich
Prof. Jonas Buchli, Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, ETH Zurich
Prof. Robert Flatt, Institute for Building Materials, ETH Zurich
Prof. Walter Kaufmann, Institute of Structural Engineering, ETH Zurich

Contributing researchers
Norman Hack (Project lead), Julio Ramon López Alonso, Kathrin Dörfler, Dr. Jaime Mata Falcón, Dr. Nitish Kumar, Dr. Andrew Liew, Dr. Timothy Wangler, Maximilian Seiferlein, Alexander Nikolas Walzer

Supporting technicians:
Michael Lyrenmann, Philippe Fleischmann

Industry partners
NOE-Schaltechnik GmbH
Schlatter Industries AG
Sika Technology AG
Stahl Gerlafingen AG

Image credits:
Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich or Roman Keller.
If you intend to use one of the images, please contact us for the exact image credits.