Sam Wilcock

Sam Wilcock

Research interests

The Architecture Engineering Construction (AEC) industry is moving towards radical transformations, as disruptive technologies and developments in robotics and automation are allowing the investigation of alternative techniques for fabrication and construction. The connection between novel manufacturing techniques, their adaptation to construction, and the designer is being strengthened through the development of novel software tools, giving the designer greater power to realise complex geometries in structures. In this project, an exploration will be made of shell structure design, robotic assembly processes, and the link between machine capabilities and design requirements, to provide architects with tools and methods to push the capabilities of what can be realised structurally through automation. Robots will be programmed, through informed decisions made based on this exploration, to begin the automated assembly of free form shell structures.

The aims of my research are

  • to develop new knowledge on assembly processes for the purposes of creating self-supporting structures, in order to utilise robotics to realise aesthetic architectures
  • to create and test a novel system for the design and automated construction of full-scale architectural shells, factoring in the entire assembly process by robotic manipulator arms, such as those utilised in factory component assembly
  • to develop understanding of optimisations possible throughout the design process, and how computation tools might be used as semi-autonomous agents within the design process
  • to gain an understanding of how automation might go on to improve the Architecture Engineering Construction industry, and to advance the field of automation in construction.

In order to achieve these aims, computer aided design (CAD) software will be integrated with robotics simulation and motion planning tools, in parallel with structural analysis software where required, such that a variety of geometric designs may be explored for feasibility of construction. This integration will allow further exploration of how real-world constraints will affect the design process, giving an understanding of what may be possible at a much earlier stage. Where possible, experiments will be done to validate theoretical designs and automation schemes utilising manipulator robots with appropriate electromechanical tooling.

This project will provide novel end-to-end tools and techniques for the design-to-manufacture of architecturally complex geometries, through the leverage of recent advances in manufacturing techniques and robotics, both for the benefit of the AEC community and the wider scientific community, whilst the focus on a combination of ICT in construction and built environments, intelligence in planning, and next-generation robotic manufacture stands to potentially aid future applications within design, construction and engineering sectors.


  • MSc(Eng) Mechatronics & Robotics, University of Leeds
  • BSc Mechanical Engineering, University of Nottingham