During four weeks a robot of the ETH Zurich will built the ‘Pike Loop’ installation on a traffic island in the middle of New York. From 5 October passersby will be able to follow the construction of the bending brick wall, which will be finished 27 October and last until the end of the year. The installation and its unique construction method was developed by the professorship of Gramazio & Kohler ‘Architecture and Digital Fabrication’ at the ETH Zurich. The research of this professorship will be presented within the attendant exhibition „Digital Materiality“ in the „Storefront for Art and Architecture“ gallery from 1 October til 14 November.
Here is what the architects explain:
“Pike Loop is a 22m (72ft) long structure built from bricks, the most traditional building material widely present in New York. It was designed to be built on-site with an industrial robot from a movable truck trailer. More than seven thousand bricks aggregate to form an infinite loop that weaves along the pedestrian island. In changing rhythms the loop lifts off the ground and intersects with itself at its peaks and valleys. The massive weight of the bricks is brought to a delicate suspension. The digitally designed brick structure is further articulated by a weighted compressing and tensioning of the brick bond. Where the loop flies the bond becomes stretched and thus lighter; where it brings loads to the ground it becomes jagged and heavier, thus wider and more stable.”
“The continuous form and homogeneous expression of the structure can only be achieved through on site digital fabrication. The structure is built using the robotic fabrication unit R-O-B housed in a transportable freight container. R-O-B was shipped from Switzerland to New York and loaded onto a low bed trailer for transport and onsite fabrication. The moving of the truck trailer shifts the 4.5m (15ft) work area of R-O-B along the site in order to build the complete structure.”
Client: Storefront for Art and Architecture in conjunction with the New York City Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program
Collaborators: Michael Knauß (project leader), Ralph Bärtschi, Markus Giera, Michael Lyrenmann, Kirsten Weiss, Brett Albert, Marc Pancera, Tom Stewart
Selected experts: Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, P.C. (Structural Engineering)
Sponsors: ETH Zurich, Faculty of Architecture
Keller AG Ziegeleien
Consulate General of Switzerland in New York
Swiss International Airlines
General Shale Brick Inc.
USM Modular Furniture
Sika Schweiz AG
Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, P.C.
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
New York State Council on the Arts
New York city Department of Cultural Affairs