Neri Oxman is an enigmatic designer. The MIT Media Lab professor comfortably straddles the worlds of architecture, art, interaction design, and synthetic biology. What comes out of that venn diagram of disciplines are, as you might guess, some pretty wild ideas about the future of architecture and materiality.
Oxman’s Mediated Matter Group recently finished a research project called Fiberbots and, appropriately, it’s a bizarre mix of robotics and sculpture. The name Fiberbots refers to the robots themselves: small, cylindrical machines that spool fiberglass filament out of an arm.
Here’s how it works: Each of the robots has an arm and base. The arm is connected to a tube on the ground that feeds a mix of fiberglass and resin into the robot to create the wet filament. Once the robot is filled with filament, it begins spinning the thread around itself in a tight pattern that’s then cured by the robot’s internal UV light. From there, the fleet of Fiberbots crawl upward like legless spiders and repeat the whole process again.
The result is a hardened fiber structure that can be programmed to take on different elongated shapes. Oxman compares the swarm of Fiberbots to ants and spiders, which are able to build complex self-supporting structures rapidly and with an eye for optimization. For Oxman, the Fiberbots represent an architectural future where buildings themselves could be embedded with living and digital systems.
”Fibers are the bricks of the future,” Oxman told Dezeen. “We will see fibers appearing everywhere, across scales and applications, including carrying and transferring data between bodies, buildings and environments.”