About LAIR

LAIR, the Laboratory for Architecture Informatics and Robotics is a research unit part of the School of Architecture, Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Montreal.

As its name suggests the laboratory works to improve the processes of creation and production of architectural form through computation and robotic fabrication.

The unit conducts research in several directions of interest related to architectural and structural form finding, digital fabrication, algorithm-enhanced low-tech craft, and circular construction processes. The typical research development at LAIR loops between digital processes like algorithm development and geometry investigations, and material processes like prototyping and assembly techniques.

The main research production of LAIR consists of free software tools for the AEC industry in the form of extensions for well known CAD platforms like Rhino3d. Research demonstrators produced by the lab are used to test research hypotheses and tools and as a vehicle for research dissemination.

From a fabrication point of view LAIR represents a robotic prototyping infrastructure with two robotic arms (ABB IRB 4600-60), one robotic positioner (ABB IRBP A250) and several end effectors (cutting, milling, positioning, etc.)

The typical LAIR research workflow

Current research directions (non-exhaustive):

Thin sheet materials and especially thin sheet metals are mostly viewed as finishing materials that control the aesthetics and protect architectural structures. This strand of research aims to create self standing structural skins that use only very thin sheet material for both structural and aesthetic (closure) purposes.

This strand of research continues the work started by LAIR director Andrei Nejur at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design. The work aims to extend the current structural form-finding paradigm using graphical methods and more precisely 3d graphic statics through reciprocal polyhedral systems. The research is developed as a collaboration with Polyhedral Structures Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.

This research project works to extend current structural form-finding methods (like 3d graphic statics) with fabrication and assembly constraints. The idea is that design space exploration done with architectural and structural intent should be able to include fabrication and assembly logic. The research aims to translate the limitations induces by the physical processes of production into digital constraints for the form-finding processes thus ensuring the production of fabricable architectural and structural form.

To make architecture more sustainable the integration of circular economy principle like material reuse is paramount. This research project investigates material reuse for complex and nonstandard architectural forms. How can constrained kits of reclaimed construction materials shape the form-finding and optimization processes for non-standard architectural form?