USC School of Architecture
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Tiffany CHENG: The aim of my 2012 final undergraduate project was to develop a colony of low-tech robots that can sustainably reconstruct and reincarnate space using existing materials. By collecting, melting, and mixing scraps and parts of decimate structures, these robots transform existing materials into new hybrid composites, reallocating otherwise unusable matter into inhabitable spaces.
I primarily focused my research on additive manufacturing technologies such as 3-D printing, as well as subtractive milling techniques, to design two species of robots that work cooperatively in repurposing abandoned and decaying buildings. Robot Species_A analyzes an existing building to determine areas that are structurally insignificant and that can be demolished for reuse. Robot Species_B (physically built and prototyped) uses the materials gathered and ground up by Robot Species_A to not only augment the building’s existing structure, but to also transform the aesthetic.
Programmed with emergent and evolutionary behavior, my robots have the ability to communicate and coordinate with each other as a multi-agent system. The result, digitally simulated with Processing, is a generative system that uses as many low-tech robots as needed to generate a building of any scale.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
TC: Roland Snooks, Andrew Atwood, and Softkill Design.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
TC: Reading J. G. Ballard and Manuel De Landa; listening to Emancipator, Wax Tailor, Bajofondo, and PANTyRAiD; watching Blade Runner and Saturday Night Live digital shorts.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
TC: Neri Oxman, Gramazio & Kohler, and Biothing.
Additional credits and links:
Thanks to advisor Kris Mun