Robotically built architecture is here, and it’s already taken myriad forms. We’ve seen multi-axis arms autonomously build timber frames and large-scale 3D printer craft entire army barracks. Now you can add mudslinging drones to the list of technological advancements.
Architect Stephanie Chaltiel recently showed off Mud Shell, an experimental project that uses drones to help build mud dwellings that she hopes someday will be used as emergency shelter.
Though the drones get most of the attention, building the prototype that Chaltiel showed off at London Design Week was a group effort. Before employing the fleet of buzzing machines, Chaltiel worked with a team of students to build a lightweight geodesic timber frame and cover it with a light formwork of burlap sacks filled with sand. These bags dangle off the frame like shingles, creating the the canvas for the drone’s mud.
From there, programmed drones encircle the timber skeleton and begin spraying wet mud, which quickly dries the mound into a sturdy earthen structure. Think of it like a modern-day wattle and daub.
Chaltiel’s building is structurally modest—a hollow mound that looks like a large scale chocolate truffle. Still, it’s apparently resilient enough that Chatiel hopes that someday disaster relief organizations will use the process to build rapid-response shelters.