Architecture and construction have always been at the forefront of technology and materials trends. As a result, it is not surprising to find a project using artificial intelligence and robotics in a new approach to these arts, particularly at a famous technical university such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

The robotic design and construction they are experimenting with shows how homes and offices can be built a decade from now.

With the help of artificial intelligence and four collaborative robots, researchers at ETH Zurich are designing and manufacturing a 22.5-meter-high green architectural sculpture inspired by the mythical structures of the ancient city of Babylon.

Launched in 2019, the Semiramis project (named after the Queen of Babylon) is a collaboration between human designers and artificial intelligence designers.

The general idea came from architecture professors Fabio Gramazio and Mathias Koehler. But the design was achieved by establishing basic requirements, such as size, necessity of irrigation and building style, through a combination of computer models and machine learning algorithms.

During the design process, for example, the team might reposition one of the larger capsules that make up the structure, or change the layout of the panels that make up its surface.

The software they created adjusts the geometry of the overall chassis and other panels on the spot to accommodate these changes and ensure that they remain safely bearing their weight, and so on.

There are many automated processes in architecture. But this project is pushing the boundaries to a new level in terms of control.

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The point is to make it a collaboration, not just the kind of architectural scrutiny that ensures the project doesn’t fall apart.

“The computer model allows us to reverse the traditional design process and explore the full design scope of the project,” Koehler said. This leads to new, and often surprising, geometric shapes.

The project combines artificial intelligence and robotic assistance

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After arriving at the final design. Construction is accomplished by another team of four robotic arms. These arms work with one mind to hold several heavy pieces in place. While the human element sets the resin used to hold them together.

The Semiramis project is built in the workshop, and then shipped piece by piece to its final location in the Tech Cluster Zug. It must be fully assembled and ready to accept soil and seed next spring.

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