Robotic Force Printing - MIT Design-Build Workshop 2019

This one-month workshop explores robotic additive manufacture and assembly of novel shell structures.

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Over the course of three weeks, participants from both Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tongji University will work together to design, develop and build a full-scale robotically manufactured shell structure in Shanghai, where they will be developing hands-on skills to integrate programming, structural design exploration, digital fabrication, and robotic assembly. The workshop explores novel shell structures leveraging advances in additive manufacturing and robotic fabrication, equilibrium-based methods of structural design and assembly, and the design opportunities enabled by their integration.

Participants are expected to possess a good handle on 3D modeling and computational design, preferably with working knowledge of Python, and experiences in digital fabrication and prototyping. Participants of all levels of expertise in structural design and analysis and robotics are welcomed. Students will be exposed to computational tools, techniques and workflows to engage with the robotics-enabled design exploration using the open-source COMPAS framework, an open-source, Python-based computational framework for collaboration and research in architecture, engineering and digital fabrication.

This workshop was organised in January 2019 as an "Experiment in Pedagogy" as part of "150 Years of Architecture at MIT" and held at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. 

Learning Goals

In this workshop, students can expect to be exposed to the following topics:

  • COMPAS, which is an open-source computational and comprehensive design framework
  • basic computational form-finding methods to design and explore compression and bending-active shells
  • strategies to combine traditional construction material system with novel digital fabrication methods and materials
  • prototyping of material systems and detailing
  • equilibrium-informed strategies for shell discretization to reduce form-work requirements
  • robotic-enabled additive and subtractive manufacturing methods
  • assembly logics and construction sequencing


  • ETH Zurich - Kam-Ming Mark Tam, Gene Ting-Chung Kao, Prof. Philippe Block 
  • Tongji University - Dr. Xiang Wang, Liming Zhang, Hua Chai, Prof. Philip F. Yuan
  • MIT - Zain Karsan


  • MIT - Alexandre Beaudouin-Mackay, Dalma Földesi, Benjamin Carlton Hoyle, Hyerin Lee, Molly Rita Mason, Jung In Seo, Anna Vasileiou
  • Tongji University - Weizhe GAO, Zhe GUO, Ce LI, Youyuan LUO, Chunpong SO, Xiao ZHANG, Weiran ZHU


  • OCT Group
  • MIT Department of Architecture
  • Archi-Union / Fab-Union


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