ETH Zurich Completes ‘Semiramis’ Hanging Garden, Built with the Help of Robots

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Gramazio Kohler Research and ETH Zurich have unveiled a new sculptural installation at the entrance of Switzerland’s Tech Cluster Zug. Named Semiramis, the vertical garden combines architecture, technology, and nature to create a striking monument. The installation, reaching a height of 22.5 meters, is comprised of five wooden pods suspended by slender steel pillars.

The unique form of Semiramis is the result of a pioneering machine learning design method developed by ETH Zurich and the Swiss Data Science Center. This method allowed the team to generate the most efficient design variations, taking into account factors such as sunshade, rain protection, and plantable surfaces.

Collaboration with the Computational Robotics Lab led to the creation of a custom tool that optimized the complex geometry of the individual pods, considering material properties and fabrication parameters. This ensured the panels maintained their flatness while enhancing structural integrity.

The integration of cross-laminated timber plates was achieved through a novel assembly procedure developed by Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich, TS3, and the Chair for Timber Structures at ETH Zurich. This process allowed for the precise bonding of wood components, enabling intricate folded wood structures on a large scale.

The robotic assembly of Semiramis, carried out by four robots at ETH Zurich’s Robotic Fabrication Lab, represents a significant achievement for Gramazio Kohler Research. The use of additive manufacturing technology in this context is unprecedented. The team collaborated with Intrinsic to integrate their robot planning technology with COMPAS FAB, an open-source robotic fabrication package.

Semiramis not only serves as an artistic installation but also as a retreat and communal space for the workers and residents of Tech Cluster Zug. Its centralized irrigation system creates a green environment, filters light, and provides varying degrees of shade. This design ensures a comfortable microclimate during the hot summer months, making Semiramis both an aesthetic masterpiece and a functional and sustainable addition to the urban landscape.

As Semiramis stands tall at the entrance of the Tech Cluster Zug, spectators can admire this living artwork from below and, in the future, from the surrounding buildings set to rise in the area. Its blend of architecture, technology, and nature demonstrates the harmony that can be achieved when these elements intertwine.

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