robotics | design | human-robot interaction

Robotic Ripples

Program: A Garden of Pavilions for the Dalai Lama
The relative absence of the absolute boundary, defined as multiple readings of a resonating boundary, where a condition is simultaneously bounded and expanding. The project began with a recollection of my first spatial memory in the form of a narrative describing a memory of being bounded by the table cloth underneath my grandmother's kitchen table but where the imagination is expanding beyond the immediate condition.
The juxtaposition of the program “A Garden of Pavilions for the Dalai Lama” with the site -- an abandoned Soviet Nuclear Submarine base in Balaclava, Ukraine, poses the question what do Communism and Buddhism have in common? Both Communism and Buddhism were established on the ideological beliefs of collectivism, unity & relativity. While communism takes a materialistic perspective and Buddhism takes a spiritual one, both believe in an interdependent network of every human, the unity of all things as one entity, and the absence of clearly defined boundaries in a transformation from one state of matter to another. The same beliefs resulted in very different outcomes, providing for multiple readings of the same ideology. The architectural manifestation of collectivism, unity, and relativity can be expressed as mass ornament: a series of formal operations carried out on meaningless parts to produce abstract patterns using the mechanical movements of lines, rotations and repetitions.
The Dalai Lama is a being that is part of both reality and spirituality the combination of being a reincarnation of Buddha and his homeless state in exile create an aura about him which allows him to simultaneously exist in both reality and spirituality, rendering him as the physical manifestation of a condition that is simultaneously bounded and expanding.

Robotic Ripples: Variable Surface Manipulation

ceramic tile prototype

exterior facade application

interior living room application

interior bathroom application


robotic roller eliminates the need for a mold

robotic roller diagram

robot movement

tool path

robotic roller

roller movement max angles


robotic surface manipulation process video


robotic roller integration into existing manufacturing process

Harvard University Graduate School of Design | Fall 2013

Professors: Nathan King + Rachel Vroman

Course: Material Research, Digital Design and Fabrication

Project type: Robotic Fabrication meets Ceramics

Award: Reshape Digital Craft 2014 (


Along with an increase in demand for customization, the ceramic industry is turning to innovative fabrication strategies in order to produce highly customizable products. Methods such as linear extrusion, dry press, and wet press are currently used to achieve some degree of customization, however, these methods have limitations when applied to high-volume production processes. By combining traditional clay rolling techniques and industrial scale robotic fabrication, we can achieve highly customizable ceramic surfaces that are easily mass produced without the use of molds or dies. In order to explore what opportunities the combination of these two very different methods allows, a custom roller tool attachment for an ABB IRB 4400 robotic arm was designed and fabricated.                                                                                                             

For proof of concept, a 6-foot by 6-foot full-scale prototype of a ceramic façade system is produced. This Robotic Roller method is directly applicable to the current tile production industry. As a process, the variable roller can be incorporated into existing tile production lines to develop infinitely customizable tile surfaces without the need to produce molds or other support materials that become waste. The Robotic Roller tool creates an entirely new set of possibilities for an existing production process that is fairly standardized.

The Robotic Roller tool resulted from combining a conventional ceramic roller with an industrial ABB robot. The tool is custom made by attaching the axle of a typical low friction large diameter conveyor roller to a frame made of steel angles and extruded aluminum. The tool has sliding arms that lock in position allowing the length and diameter of the roller to change for different designs. This adjustable feature of the roller attachment allows for an increase in surface design variation as the size, shape and pattern of the roller may be easily changed. The tool can tilt longitudinally to a maximum angle of 45˚ in either direction before causing a collision between the roller axle and the clay.