Skin, cut, construction

Concrete experiments and pop-up robot lab in Seoul, South Korea

By Ryan Hughes and Anders Kruse Aagaard

Just before the summer break, a packed shipping container left Aarhus School of Architecture to begin its voyage towards Seoul, South Korea. Its cargo: four tonnes of concrete prototypes and two industrial robots.

Seven weeks later, Associate Professors Chris Thurlbourne and Leif Høgfeldt, Research Assistant Ryan Hughes and Assistant Professor Anders Kruse Aagaard arrived at Onground Gallery in Seoul to receive the shipment and begin the setup of the exhibition Skin Cut Construction: Danish Experiments in Concrete.

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Concrete experiments

The exhibition revolved around the experimental use of concrete in Denmark and combined cases from construction and the building industry with a major contribution from Aarhus School of Architecture comprised of research results, student work, and a pop-up fabrication lab.

The research results appeared as full-scale architectural components discussing the relationship between the specific material properties of concrete and the potential of advanced digital crafting with robotic arms.

The four projects Intermediate Fragment, Concrete Moves, Rebar Inside, and Solid Silk by Anders and Ryan framed the exhibition together with works by second-year students as well as models from the school’s annual digital fabrication event Hardcourse Design.

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Robots in action

The massive amount of concrete didn’t define the entire exhibition. Along the street, the motion of two industrial robotic arms from ABB intrigued passers-by. A street-facing space in the gallery was converted into a vivid, dusty pop-up fabrication and concrete casting lab.

From the moment the exhibition opened, Ryan and Anders produced concrete components each day to showcase the capabilities of robotic hotwire cutting and wet concrete forming.

Simultaneous to a show of precision manufacturing, interested visitors and participants were taught about the procedures and potentials of industrial robots as tools for architectural development and how these bespoke processes offer new ways of connecting material and digital design tools.

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Skin Cut Construction: Danish Experiments in Concrete was organised by Leif Høgfeldt and Onground Gallery as a parallel exhibition to the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism and the UIA Congress.

The exhibition was sponsored by Arts Council Korea, BCHO Architects Associates, Statens Kunstfond and Dreyers fond.

Many thanks to Jiyoon Park and Professor Byoung Soo Cho for having us at Onground Gallery.