Robert Stuart-Smith Studio
Archigram’s Instant City used flying machines to deploy entertainment spaces to remote areas, making architecture a temporal event. Instant Ice happens to be the name given to supercooled water, which when poured on cold surfaces materialises from liquid into solid immediately. The project explores the idea of using autonomous swarms of quadcopters to 3D print architectural spaces in ice. The system relies on stochastic and deterministic methods of design that ensure architectural performance arises from the construction logistics and organisational potentials of swarm robotics.
The research was developed through both physical and digital prototypes. Studies were done in order to determine ways to use ice as a 3D printed material, setting up parameters such as temperature, structural performance, curing time and deposition rates which were then correlated into larger scale digital simulations. The next stage of the research involved using architectural solutions to deal with difficult climatic conditions and structural performance. In the last stage of the work, we focused on the translational abilities of quadcopters and the organisation of swarm robotics through simple rules dealing with building time and construction logics.
The proposed architectural system is located on prototypical sites where the climatic conditions are satisfiable to produce large-scale ice architecture. Robotic fabrication offers the opportunity to produce complex adaptive systems which are time-dependant. Instant Ice situates architecture as the result of a confrontation between climatic conditions, structural forces and site topography. The result is a large- scale touristic complex that changes over time depending on climatic conditions and melts away with the end of each winter season.