The Architecture of Slicing

Balancing Automation, Design and Sustainability in Digitally Fabricated Concrete through RHWC


  • Pedro Martins Departamento de Arquitectura, FCT-UC
  • José Pedro Sousa



Digitally empowered tools and processes for making, such as robotic fabrication and 3D printing have enabled the materialization of designs of ever-growing complexity, with the promise of an unprecedented expressive freedom but also with the promise of automation and its economic benefits. Simultaneously, controlling new digital processes also presents opportunities to address the need for a more socially responsible and sustainable architectural practice. What is not clear is how such technologies can be critically appropriated in architecture, balancing all these solicitations.

This paper centers on digital fabrication tool for concrete architecture - Robotic Hot Wire Cutting - focusing on the emerging opportunities of the mechanic of slicing, and proposes to answer the question: how can digital fabrication tools balance the allure of automation, the responsibility of sustainability and the drive for artistic production? To answer this question, we present a thematic analysis to these issues, based on the articulation of the findings from a set of four experimental prototypes developed to explore these issues.


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