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The Universal Robotic Factory/ A flexible robotic manufacturing plant
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The Universal Robotic Factory/ A flexible robotic manufacturing plant
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Stephen Phillips/ Fall 2010_Winter_Spring 2011/ ARCH 481
June 2011
Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States; Port of Los Angeles
My thesis Involves the reconsideration of the role of robotic technology within the factory. My project is a flexible robotic manufacturing plant located at the edge of the Port of Los Angeles adjacent to San Pedro. The primary focus of this project is the production hall of the factory. The vast hall is populated with production "hives" - reconfigurable stacks of workable manufacturing space - which are designed to be custom tailored to a specific client/product to meet their manufacturing needs. The goal of the complex is to move away from accepted methods of manufacturing - seeing current methods as too linear, too inflexible, and underutilizing of existing robotic technology (for example, using a 5-axis robot arm, which has the potential to be programmed to accomplish a seemingly infinite number of tasks, to repeat the same operation over and over, from a fixed position along a line). My project is concerned with freeing the robots from their fixed positions and their repetitive tasks and release them into the factory so that they may perform various tasks in various locations. The production hall then becomes a series of nodal stations which may be rented by companies to produce anything from small electronics to automobiles. The end result is a project which is majorly influenced by the inhabitants of the building. I had the unique opportunity to design an occupant of my factory which greatly influenced the project's direction. The occupant is a walking Hexapod robot with the ability to create/alter it's environment. Intended for production supervision and light manufacturing tasks (3d printing in this case) this team of robots also have the capacity to transform the factory. Over time, the robots will reappropriate building materials and print new architectural elements in their wake.
It is an exciting, if ambitious proposition, to make a serious contribution to contemporary architecture and the profession through research as a practice. Architecture is at once the study and investigation of historic and contemporary ideas through research—as well as the practical engagement of building through its manufacture and technique of construction. Building can be highly controversial as they perform the very basic acts of providing shelter and event spaces. They can incite discourse and debate by engaging popular culture, criticism, and politics through multi-media. Architecture is a robust profession of extreme ambition that participates meaningfully in global concerns through a wide range of contemporary rural, suburban, and metropolitan acts. To participate in this thesis studio will require ambition—an ambition to create architecture beyond the mere act of building known ideas or forms. As contemporary practice moves swiftly through global networks with ever-increasing speed and efficacy—it is our aim to pursue ideas relevant to topics of advancing concerns. To achieve our objectives we will need to become educated to the wide range of historical and contemporary ideas passing swiftly through the profession. We will need to be able to critically access what is of passing concern—what is merely “flash in the pan”—versus ideas of serious formal, political, social, technological, ecological, and philosophical magnitude that will impact world views. As the premise of this thesis studio is to teach students to think for themselves, each student will be responsible for developing their own interest and trajectory for their thesis investigation through extensive collaboration with their thesis instructor. Each student will elaborate and focus their work alongside class discussions. Projects will develop quickly and advance significantly in coordination with a rigorous schedule set by the instructor. Students will have an enormous responsibility to successfully research, design, and produce a substantive architectural project to be presented formally and publicly pre-requisite to graduation.
Cal Poly State University College of Architecture & Environmental Design
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