Circular Digitalized Dome

Prof. Catherine De Wolf, Brandon Byers, Deepika Raghu, Matthew Gordon

Chair of Circular Engineering for Architecture, ETH Zurich

This project develops and implements digital tools for building with reclaimed materials. Reclaimed materials lack standardization, with each material or component following a unique path from their previous lifespans to their new lifespans based on their individual properties. Digitalization can help mitigate the difficulties of working with reusable materials by allowing for material tracking, design optimization and the use of advanced fabrication technology. In this study, several digital tools are explored in a practical lifespan-to-lifespan project. A circular, digitalized dome is constructed using materials removed from a building marked for demolition. First, digital scanning and reconstruction techniques are studied for creating a digital twin of the building to be demolished. Next, recovery strategies for removing the wooden beams were set up. Once transported back to the construction site, a matching algorithm was used to optimize the structure of the dome with the reclaimed wood. During fabrication, each piece was marked with a laser-engraved QR code representing its ID in the total design with a link to an online database. The database records the geometric and material details of each piece. The connective components of the structure were produced from water pipes, also recovered from the demolition site. To bring structural rigidity to the system, insets were produced from OSB panels that made up the original floor system. These were produced with computer numerical control (CNC) machines. Through this project, assumptions inherent in the standard methodologies due to idealized data, and the concerns brought on by real-world data when working with reclaimed materials is explored.