ARCH 497 | Robotics

Say the word robot, and you will conjure images from popular culture where mechanical creatures perform feats of inhuman strength, intelligence, speed and even malevolence. Aside from media representations, robots are useful tools we have created to perform work for us. Robots release us from the burden of menial, repetitive or dangerous work, increase the efficiency of work through their speed and accuracy and even care for, heal or house us. For any task that we might want to do, a robot can be designed or at least imagined to perform that task.

Robots, as extensions of ourselves, pose interesting problems regarding how we relate to ourselves and the world around us. What happens when we amplify our ourselves? If we as humans relate to architecture in human ways, how might amplified versions of ourselves do so? In this course, we will examine how a robot can activate space and interact with architecture. We will look at robots as prostheses that augment the built environment, adding human elements of whimsy, personality, behavior, mobility, conflict, agency and freedom through technological proxies to otherwise static structures or empty spaces. Robots will become critical agents in the subversion of traditional expectations of space and the built environment.

Students will develop a robotic system over the course of the semester that augments the built environment and will present the final project along with associated research and media to be evaluated for their final grade. Students will be introduced to all aspects of robotic systems, including programming, electronics, mechanics and fabrication. Students will also read and discuss the history and theory of robotics and how it relates to the architectural discipline. Students will be personally responsible for purchasing an electronics kit (not to exceed $200) as well as other necessary materials to complete projects.