Angelus Novus: Demonstrating New Possibilities for AR and Self-balancing in Construction
The team behind Angelus Novus will talk about their project and highlight the use of technology in construction.
Construction is certainly among the oldest manufacturing sectors. Its roots date back to the beginning of human history: even before the invention of writing, humanity built by combining elementary units such as beams, bricks, or stones. Today, as in the past, knowledge is passed down through generations and learned through practice, but during the last centuries, many historical traditions have been lost (or nearly lost) due to the emergence of new materials, such as concrete and steel, the development of different approaches to design, and the shortage of skilled masons.
The construction sector has a tremendous impact on the environment. According to the Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction 2022, it is responsible for 37% of carbon dioxide emissions and contributes to about one-third of global waste. Furthermore, it is considered one of the least technologically advanced and least productive sectors among industrialized ones. Its productivity is less than half of the overall average of all manufacturing sectors, although there has been a slight improvement in recent years due to the increased adoption of digitization. Its integration with other industrial sectors presents a significant opportunity for growth, especially concerning production and construction phases.
Throughout history, the high cost of materials has led to the development of efficient construction systems aimed at limiting material waste. The economy has always been the main criterion guiding production; many cultures have sought construction methods and techniques primarily based on the principles of efficiency. In this process, they have also explored scaffold-free technologies that allow the construction of arches, vaults, and domes without the need for scaffolding or support. Examples of the application of these technologies can be found in the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, in the work of Guastavino in the USA, and in the work of the architect Hassan Fathy in Egypt. Even today, these efficient construction techniques can provide significant insights for more sustainable development of the construction industry, however, their application is hindered by a lack of knowledge and qualified craftsmanship.
In this context, the Angelus Novus project aims to connect the past and the future through a contemporary revisitation of historical construction techniques. In particular, on the occasion of the Venice Biennale 2023 at biennial architecture exhibition Time Space Existence, Angelus Novus has been materialised in a masonry vault built by combining Augmented Reality and historical scaffold-free building techniques. This combination preserves the knowledge intrinsically linked to the craftsmanship of construction and expands it towards new applications. Built with 2000 handmade bricks made from recycled material, the doubly-curved form was constructed without temporary supports or guide work using a novel mixed-reality construction approach. A data-driven augmented reality (AR) interface enabled a skilled mason to guide the placement of each brick in a complex geometric pattern, reducing time spent reading construction drawings and assembling on-site guide work. The combination of AR and scaffold-free construction techniques preserves the knowledge inherently linked to the craftsmanship of construction, facilitates the training of qualified individuals, and enables the streamlining of the construction process.
15:00 – 15:30
THE TECHNOLOGICAL SCENARIOS APPLIED TO THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
15:30 – 16:00
Automation in the construction industry, case studies and applications
Alessandro Beghini – Senior Associate Principle, SOM
16:00 – 16:30
Inspirational new challenges in the building sector
Sigrid M. Adriaenssens – Full Professor Princeton University
MIXED REALITY IN CONSTRUCTION: THE ANGELUS NOVUS CASE
16:30 – 17:00
Why technology in construction
Vittorio Paris – Università di Bergamo
17:00 – 17:30
Angelus Novus vault design
Fernando Herrera- Senior Associate Principal, SOM
17:30 – 18:00
The engineering of Angelus Novus
Carlo Olivieri – University of Salerno
18:00 – 18:30