The Russian design studio Zaarchitects have come up with a concept they call “smart masonry” techniques, which would involve using parametric tools and robot arms in the construction of concrete buildings. This method would require the use of less concrete for the construction of more lightweight, precise, efficient and less bulky buildings. If this method catches on, it could offset a good portion of the carbon emissions created by the building industry each year.


The Smart Masonry process concept has at its core the creation of so-called “minimal surfaces” which would be precision built by having their structural loading requirements optimized by a computer. This would result in a mesh of complex, patterned geometries that would correspond to the loading pattern and which would reduce the mass of the walls. Furthermore, this process would reduce or even eliminate the need for beams and columns.


In this process, the walls and other spatial elements would be made up of “cells” created out of pre-shaped, digitally-cut, rubber-based foam components. These would be dipped in cement and cured in a so-called “positive casting” process. All this would be prefabricated off-site and then these “readymade masonry units” would be transported to the building site, where the structure would be assembled one floor at a time by robotic arms. The use of the latter will also reduce the labor costs and time needed to construct a building as compared to traditional building methods, or even the now emerging 3D printing methods.




On paper this sounds like a pretty promising building method, which could have a great positive impact on the environment. It’s still in the concept stage though, so it will be interesting to see the first prototype building constructed using this method, which will hopefully be the case soon.