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Architecture 4.0: A New Manifestation of Contemporary Technology

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Architecture, as an interdisciplinary field, has always been both a challenger and a utilizer of cutting edge technologies of its era. As new materials and construction technologies are introduced, architecture embraces them by inspecting both the potentials and the reflections of these technologies into architectonics such as materiality, form, and detailing. Additive manufacturing, which offers enormous flexibility, customization and/or personalization, speed of construction and low cost, challenges architecture to revisit the idea of detailing, and materiality of the new tectonics for a possible new means of standardization. Within the scope of this study, additive manufacturing technology in building construction is inspected through contemporary applications, potentials and future study areas for fully integration in architecture.
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Architecture 4.0: A New Manifestation of
Contemporary Technology
Arzu Gönenç Sorguç
Middle East Technical
University
arzug@metu.edu.tr
Çağlar Fırat Özgenel
Middle East Technical
University
fozgenel@metu.edu.tr
Müge Kruşa Yemişcioğlu
Middle East Technical
University
mugek@metu.edu.tr
Abstract - Architecture, as an interdisciplinary field,
has always been both a challenger and a utilizer of
cutting edge technologies of its era. As new materials and
construction technologies are introduced, architecture
embraces them by inspecting both the potentials and the
reflections of these technologies into architectonics such
as materiality, form, and detailing. Additive
manufacturing, which offers enormous flexibility,
customization and/or personalization, speed of
construction and low cost, challenges architecture to
revisit the idea of detailing, and materiality of the new
tectonics for a possible new means of standardization.
Within the scope of this study, additive manufacturing
technology in building construction is inspected through
contemporary applications, potentials and future study
areas for fully integration in architecture.
Index Terms additive manufacturing, customization
in architecture, standardization, new tectonics
INTRODUCTION
Architecture has always been in close relation with the
technology of its era from stone age to today. This close
connection has become much clear with the first industrial
revolution (industry 1.0) spreading from England, Europe
to North America. Proliferation of machines and the mass
production of iron did not only change the building
materials but also the architectural practice of 19th century.
Architecture had to be re-acquainted with engineering
especially mechanical engineering and the term
manufacturing had been introduced to architecture and
construction. Almost 100 years later, despite the social
turmoil and economic crisis, industry 2.0 which is
identified by mass production and assembly lines, internal
combustion engines, and electricity shaped the first half of
the 20th century technology and architecture as well and
since then architecture has always been in search of new
ways design and building construction
CUSTOMIZATION, MODULARITY
AND PERSONALIZATION
The founders of modernist movement and Bauhaus
school promoted the idea of mass production and
standardization of the architecture. Le Corbusier's treatise
on "Mass Production of House” (1919) [1], the idea of
"building block" as a way of standardization proposed by
Walter Gropius and Adolph Meyer (1923) [2], the first
prefabricated steel frame for Richard Neutra's “Lovell
Health House” (1928) [3] can be considered as the early
examples of the mass production and standardization of
architecture. Since then there are several prefabricated
mass-produced standardized examples in the architecture.
The use of concrete and the possibility of fabricating the
concrete tunnel formwork systems define most of the
buildings that we are seeing especially in developing
countries as a response of continuously increasing housing
demand especially after the second world war.
Rapidly spreading Industry 3.0 had also important
consequences in architecture and construction. Especially
introduction of CAD and then CAM into architecture is
accepted as the milestone. Architecture and construction
was acquainted with a new level of precision and design
process is driven by data i.e. data-driven architecture
started to become a common practice enabling a building
pushing the boundaries of the materials, forms and
performances.
It can be observed that tectonics of the buildings and the
prefabricated ones start to evolve with the transformation
from mass production to mass customized production.
Newly used materials like titanium or structural glass and
etc. start to appear in the buildings and architects like
Norman Foster, Frank Gehry (Figure 1) provided the very
first examples of how buildings have been evolving under
the influence of such technologies.
45
FIGURE 1: (1) USE OF TITANIUM ON THE FAÇADE OF
GUGGENHEIM BILBAO BY FRENK GEHRY [4], (2)
STRUCTURAL GLASS IN APPLE STORE IN HANGZHOU BY
FOSTER AND PARTNERS [5]
Starting from the early examples, the potentials of
computer aided design and analysis tools as well as
production/fabrication technologies offer architects new
means to explore new forms and complexities as well to
use more data. This transformation deliberates itself mostly
as performance-based architecture and the paradigmatic
shift of form to formation and /file to factory as a follow-
up of industry. Starting from 1990's there are several
buildings reflecting this shift in architectural practice.
Responsive, kinetic, smart terms are employed to describe
buildings and their performances such as in the very early
examples like Jean Nouvel’s Arab Institute (1987), The
Abu Dhabi Investment Council Headquarters designed by
Aedas Architectural office and Arup (2008).
Idea of performance has also brought architects together
with different disciplines in a more extended way and
buildings started to become machine-like, furnished by
kinetic, dynamic and electronic components driven by
different control technologies and systems (Figure 2,
Figure 3). Consequently, architectural design obliged to
embrace various technologies and yet sustainability should
be conformed in its broadest sense. Today there are several
buildings demonstrating this shift in building design and
construction.
FIGURE 2: DAVID FISHERS ROTATING DYNAMIC TOWER
IN DUBAI [6]
FIGURE 3: THE KINETIC FAÇADE OF THEMATIC PAVILION
FOR THE EXPO 2012 DESIGNED BY SOMA [7]
Most of these buildings are hybridization of different
technologies from their design process to structural
systems, from materials to their construction/production. It
can also be seen that customized components and in-situ
construction takes place in a harmonious way and with a
high precision in contemporary building practice.
FIGURE 4: 3D MODEL AND CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS OF
HEYDAR ALIYEV CENTRE DESIGNED BY ZAHA HADID
ARCHITECTS [8]
Nowadays, the change in architecture has been more
far-reaching than before. Rapidly developing
computational technologies, cyber materials, virtual and
augmented reality offer new means for building design and
design process extend itself to life-like experiences in
different visual modalities. Design process started to
include after-life modeling of buildings as well. Hence the
extent of data increases and building design requires
system design as well.
On the other hand, rapid prototyping and 3-D printing
technologies in architecture are other game changers and
architects have immediately figured out the potentials of
such technologies. Architectural practice incorporates
these technologies from small scale models to full scale
ones.
Building design in today’s world is an act of extensive
modeling, and construction is not confined in a site.
Buildings are either assemblies of various components
produced with different technologies in different places
like a complex machine or additively fabricated and they
become their prototypes of themselves.
In brief, architectural design has already been coping
with Industry 4.0. and Architecture 4.0 already takes place.
However, architecture encompasses first 3 industrial
revolutions in a much faster and broader way. How
architecture responds to Industry 4.0 shows some
46
important discrepancies with the previous ones especially
related with understanding of construction due to strong
conception of building systems, the pressure of powerful
construction industries and their reluctance to change the
existing technologies and practices. Another important
reason behind this time lag is the architecture itself, since
not only data but also new means of fabrication imply for
architecture requires discussion, re-discovery and re-
definition of material, form, scale, systems, details and
thus the tectonics of the buildings. These new definitions
force architects to quit their comfort zone of contemporary
design practice.
THE ROLE OF ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING
“Making” in 21st century, from simple products to very
complex machines have been changing drastically; at one
side very delicate robotic manufacturing, and highly
advanced factories, on the hand continuously developing
additive fabrication technologies enabling a person or an
office to act like a manufacturing space. The advancements
in these technologies make them very useful in various
areas from medical implementations to aerospace and
more. Among these wide range of fields, the use of those
technologies in architecture has a more transformative
power by evolving the way architectural design and
construction.
A building is a culmination of several different systems
and features like form, materials, details, comfort
conditions define the tangible qualities of design.
Architectural design spends most of the effort to solve such
issues in a seamless way. This requires a holistic
understanding, since buildings can be considered as a
collection of different components in different scales,
different materials and their details interacting with each
other in site where conditions are changing continuously.
In addition to these, as the form gets complex, form works
becomes more complex than the building itself.
FIGURE 5: EXAMPLES OF 3D-PRINTED HOUSE [9], [10]
FIGURE 6: THE DFAB HOUSE, IN DÜBENDORF BY ETH
ZURICH USING 3D SAND-PRINTING [11]
Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printed buildings as
popularly acknowledged by public, with their low cost and
high speed, is a new challenge but also a new target in
architecture. It is also a new mean for standardization and
personal customization of architecture and yet the
conventional design details, material understanding, in
short, the new tectonics should be totally re-addressed.
Important aspects of such 3-D printed buildings are
manifested in their form, material and their design
processes. Lipson described printed architecture as
“Manufacturing complexity is free. Unlike in traditional
manufacturing processes, where extra complexity requires
more expensive tooling, there is no such penalty with 3D
printing. And hence we witness a flood of algorithmic
designs straight from the future that exploit this freedom as
if the objects were unbound by the laws of physics, the
limits of real-world materials, or the age-old traditions and
heritage of making things.” [12]
This freedom can easily be seen in the use of concrete
for example. 3D printed concrete makes obsolete to use of
form work and complex forms are not challenges anymore,
become possible to achieve with a greater accuracy and
labor costs are reduced together with embodied energy. In
that regard printed architecture offers new potentials for
more sustainable building construction in different scales
from simple building blocks to the building itself.
CONCLUSION
Industry 4.0 by all means force architects to experience
Architecture 4.0 with new challenges but also with new
potentials and premises. Architecture now re-defines
conventional/traditional understanding of design
processes, structures, materials, forms and thus new
tectonics.
Therefore, within the scope of this study, the potentials,
challenges and future research topics are addressed through
47
contemporary applications by revisiting conventional
construction methods, materials, detailing and
standardization.
REFERENCES
[1]
T. Benton, C. Benton and D. .. Sharp, Architecture and
design, 1890-1939: An international anthology of original
articles, New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1975.
[2]
U. Poerschke, Architectural theory of modernism:
Relating functions and forms, New York (N.Y.):
Routledge, 2016.
[3]
A. Kroll, "AD Classics: AD Classics: Lovell House /
Richard Neutra," 2011 March 2018. [Online]. Available:
https://www.archdaily.com/104713/ad-classics-lovell-
house-richard-neutra/. [Accessed 2017 March 2018].
[4]
G. B. Museoa, 2018. [Online]. Available:
https://www.guggenheim-bilbao.eus/en/the-building/the-
construction/.
[5]
[Online]. Available:
https://www.archilovers.com/projects/149392/apple-store-
in-hangzhou.html.
[6]
[Online]. Available: https://inhabitat.com/dubais-crazy-
rotating-wind-powered-skyscraper-is-actually-being-
built/.
[7]
[Online]. Available:
http://novelarchitecture.blogspot.com/2012/07/one-
ocean.html.
[8]
[Online]. Available:
https://archinect.com/firms/project/15656048/heydar-
aliyev-centre/16632912.
[9]
[Online]. Available:
https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/americas-first-3d-
printed-houses-99189/.
[10]
"https://newatlas.com/3d-printing-housing-
architecture/53083/," [Online].
[11]
[Online]. Available:
https://www.dezeen.com/2018/08/03/eth-zurich-makes-
light-concrete-ceiling-using-3d-sand-printing/.
[12]
H. Lipson and M. Kurman, Fabricated: The New World
of 3D Printing, Indianapolis: John Wiley & Sons., 2013.
48
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Architecture and design, 1890-1939: An international anthology of original articles
  • T Benton
  • C Benton
  • D . Sharp
T. Benton, C. Benton and D... Sharp, Architecture and design, 1890-1939: An international anthology of original articles, New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1975.
Architectural theory of modernism: Relating functions and forms
  • U Poerschke
U. Poerschke, Architectural theory of modernism: Relating functions and forms, New York (N.Y.): Routledge, 2016.
AD Classics: AD Classics: Lovell House / Richard Neutra
  • A Kroll
A. Kroll, "AD Classics: AD Classics: Lovell House / Richard Neutra," 2011 March 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.archdaily.com/104713/ad-classics-lovellhouse-richard-neutra/. [Accessed 2017 March 2018].