Designing an Architectural Robot: An Actuated Active Transforming Structure Using Face Detection

  • Ji Shi
  • Yujie WangEmail author
  • Shang Liu
Conference paper


Although the advances of autonomous control in robotics broke new ground in the realization of architecture, they have hardly been integrated with architectural design intention. Very few examples of architecture-specific robot exist. This results from multiple realistic factors including the scalability and cost. However, the fundamental incentive lies in the stereotypical design ideology that fails to develop new spatial agendas to stimulate the integration. This paper presents a design workflow that revolves around designing an architectural robot. An operational full-scale architectural robot of an actuated active transforming structure was prototyped and tested to demonstrate the workflow. The design is based on a prototyping model with pneumatic actuation system and sensing using computer vision. The structure interacts with human by detecting face features and actively transforming its gesture to prevent human from approaching. The communication is based on a simulation-model-free host program that constantly reads sensor feedbacks and sends actuation values.


Architectural robot Human-computer interaction McKibben pneumatic artificial muscle Face detection Design and cultures 



This research was supported by Tsinghua University School of Architecture. The author would like to express great appreciation to the instructors and teaching assistants of the workshop, specifically, Zigeng Wang, Pengcheng Sun, Dinglu Wang, Jingsong Wang for their contributions in teaching. The author would also like to express deep gratitude to Yujie Wang for the post-workshop work and continuous insightful inputs to the research. The author would also like to extend grateful thanks to Prof. Axel Kilian, whose work has greatly inspired and motivated the author to do the research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PILLSChaoyang, BeijingChina
  2. 2.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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