Architecture

Mud-spraying drones take aim at low-cost housing

Mud-spraying drones take aim a...
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
View 66 Images
In addition to the new aerial perspectives they offer, we are beginning to see how drones can play active roles in experimental construction techniques
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In addition to the new aerial perspectives they offer, we are beginning to see how drones can play active roles in experimental construction techniques
Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
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Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
A worker toils away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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A worker toils away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
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Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
Jute bags filled with hay formed part of the structure of Chaltiel's dome
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Jute bags filled with hay formed part of the structure of Chaltiel's dome
Stephanie Chaltiel has spent years researching how certain parts of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones
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Stephanie Chaltiel has spent years researching how certain parts of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones
Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Stephanie Chaltiel has spent years researching how certain parts of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones
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Stephanie Chaltiel has spent years researching how certain parts of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
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Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
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Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
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Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
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Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
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Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
Jute bags filled with hay formed part of the structure of Chaltiel's dome
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Jute bags filled with hay formed part of the structure of Chaltiel's dome
Jute bags filled with hay formed part of the structure of Chaltiel's dome
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Jute bags filled with hay formed part of the structure of Chaltiel's dome
A worker toils away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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A worker toils away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
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Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
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Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
A worker toils away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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A worker toils away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
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Can drones lighten the load for the construction workers in remote areas?
A mud-spraying drone is prepped for work
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A mud-spraying drone is prepped for work
A mud-spraying drone is prepped for work
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A mud-spraying drone is prepped for work
Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
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Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Can drones lighten the load of construction for shelters such as this?
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Can drones lighten the load of construction for shelters such as this?
Jute bags filled with hay formed part of the structure of Chaltiel's dome
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Jute bags filled with hay formed part of the structure of Chaltiel's dome
A mud-spraying drone goes to work
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A mud-spraying drone goes to work
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
A mud-spraying drone hovers above Chaltiel's dome
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A mud-spraying drone hovers above Chaltiel's dome
Can drones lighten the load of construction for shelters such as this?
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Can drones lighten the load of construction for shelters such as this?
A mud-spraying drone hovers above Chaltiel's dome
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A mud-spraying drone hovers above Chaltiel's dome
A mud-spraying drone hovers above Chaltiel's dome
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A mud-spraying drone hovers above Chaltiel's dome
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
A mud-spraying drone goes to work
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A mud-spraying drone goes to work
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
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Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Stephanie Chaltiel has spent years researching how certain parts of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones
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Stephanie Chaltiel has spent years researching how certain parts of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
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Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Chaltiel's dome structure incorporates 2,000 jute bags filled with hay
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Chaltiel's dome structure incorporates 2,000 jute bags filled with hay
Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Chaltiel's team constructs its shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet
A spray nozzle used by Chaltiel's team
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A spray nozzle used by Chaltiel's team
A drone applies the exterior finishing to dome shelter
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A drone applies the exterior finishing to dome shelter
A drone applies the exterior finishing to dome shelter
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A drone applies the exterior finishing to dome shelter
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
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Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Stephanie Chaltiel has spent years researching how certain parts of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones
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Stephanie Chaltiel has spent years researching how certain parts of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones
A drone applies the exterior finishing to dome shelter
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A drone applies the exterior finishing to dome shelter
A dome shelter finished in biomaterials, applied by a drone
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A dome shelter finished in biomaterials, applied by a drone
A dome shelter finished in biomaterials, applied by a drone
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A dome shelter finished in biomaterials, applied by a drone
Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
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Researchers hope to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics
Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
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Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet

Further to opening our eyes to new perspectives on our environment, we are beginning to see how drones can also play very active roles in its construction. Walkable rope bridges and shapeshifting sun shelters are just a couple of manmade objects to lean on these flying robots recently, and now there's an enterprising team of researchers hoping to use them to craft low-cost housing made from natural materials.

The work is headed up by Stephanie Chaltiel, a researcher at Barcelona's Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. Chaltiel has spent years researching how elements of certain building methods could be automated to open up new possibilities, in particular through the use of drones.

"We're trying to test how drones can be embedded in the construction chain to ease some of the most laborious tasks, to be able to introduce much more sustainable techniques for innovative housing," she says.

Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Workers toil away at Domaine de Boisbuchet

The idea is to fit drones with spraying hoses to apply layers of biomaterials onto light structures, such as geodesic dome frames or grid shells covered in tensile fabrics. These frames can be put up easily and quickly, with minimal tools and skills, and the use of drones negates the need for scaffolds and heavy machinery to finish the job, a real advantage in remote areas without road access.

The drones can be packed into luggage cases and the spraying pumps can transported on wheels, Chaltiel tells Italian design magazine Domus. When they arrive at the site they can be loaded up with cocktails of different natural ingredients, such as mud, clay, lime sands and oils to form "bioshotcrete." Different mixtures can be layered onto the structure in layers to offer different drying times and different textures, ultimately coming together to form stable exterior facades that hold everything together.

A drone applies the exterior finishing to dome shelter
A drone applies the exterior finishing to dome shelter

Chaltiel recently put these ideas to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet, which looks to unearth new approaches to design problems. There, Chaltiel and her team built a geodesic skeleton in one hour and fitted it with 2,000 jute bags packed with hay. A professional pilot then took flight with the drone and wrapped it all together, forming a facade made from the so-called bioshotcrete.

Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet
Stephanie Chaltiel recently put her research into mud-spraying drones to work at an annual summer workshop at Domaine de Boisbuchet

Unfortunately, that particular dome collapsed a week later. Chaltiel tells Domus that it really needed a full week of drone-spraying to gain enough thickness to be permanently viable. But the lessons learned there helped the team make tweaks to their approach ahead of another workshop at London Design Festival, where it put together a shelter that endured.

With further work, Chaltiel hopes to work sensors into the drones so they can control thickness of the material on the fly. Eventually, she imagines developing the artificial intelligence onboard the drones so they can train themselves to identify cracks in structures as they emerge and patch them up in a timely manner.

The video below shows the team constructing their shelter at Domaine de Boisbuchet, while there are plenty of progress shots in the gallery that show how it all went down.

Source: Domaine de Boisbuchet via Domus

Stephanie Chaltiel, Shameel Muhammed | Future Earthen Dwellers | Boisbuchet 2018

5 comments
mudman
This will be a useless, time consuming process as the flight time for drones is minimal and would require a computerize program. You would need a power source and expertise to carry out even the most basic task. I suggest that these students devote their time & energy to a more viable venture.
Nik
It's obvious, from the results, that this team has no idea of the best materials for this type of dwelling, or the structure to support it. They need to do some research into ''wattle and daub'' and then they might start to get it closer to being useful. However, with all the equipment required, the eight people could have built a better structure by hand, and in less total time and cost.
Jeff Michelson
Time and money would be better spent attempting to elevate these societies into the modern world instead of enabling human beings to continue to live in grass huts. There's nothing less noble than keeping people in the dark. Though I'm sure these lily-white Westerners feel great about themselves using their fancy First World toys to impress the natives.
Daishi
There are so many products designed to help poor people by people that would never consider using them themselves that have good intentions but never seem to go anywhere. The startup advice of "scratch your own itch" is partially applicable here.
WilliamSager
Strikes me that had they made a proper adobe home on top of a concrete platform the demonstration would of carried more weight. Plus give us a indication how long this structure will last.