[auto] clay


[auto] clay is an advanced adaptation of the traditional technique of adobe construction, where pre-fabricated ‘bricks’ of earth are lightly compacted into place to form walls, and thus architectural enclosures. [auto] clay uses ‘bullets’ as fundamental units of construction which are strategically aggregated to form architectural elements that serve a purpose far greater than mere enclosures. These aggregations are formed robotically which makes the construction autonomous, and with careful curation, also bio-receptive to a wide range of flora and subsequent fauna.


Earth, as we know is the fundamental medium for propagation of life. It is interesting how a handful of soil (~200gm) has close to 1gm of living organic matter contained in it. Most of this living matter is invisible to the naked eye, but its effects can be seen, felt and measured through out the planet.


Clay is a result of withering of soil over countless years, and it is one of the finest constituents of soil. It is what gives soil its integrity and thus cohesive and adhesive properties.

Thus this research states how – autoclay, a non-continuous additive manufacturing technique, explored through earth, as a hyper-local, bio-receptive building material, within a fabrication focused design, together with robotic fabrication, can provide a sustainable, automated construction methodology, achieving an inclusive built environment for the inevitable architectural development.

To frame this research, some statistics in correlation with sustainability developments goals as established by the United Nations were looked into.


These goals helped align this research with the needs of the world, while pushing the innovation. To every step we take forward, it is always helpful to look at the path we have taken to reach this stage. The following cosmogramme maps different techniques of construction with clay, over centuries, and compares the carbon footprint in four categories – i. extraction, ii. processing, iii. transportation, and iv. maintenance.



[auto] clay is a technique of picking and placing “bullets” fundamental units of this typology of construction, robotically, in strategically developed aggregations that optimize the architectural form for structural stability, space-making and aesthetic quality.



For the scope of this research, through some initial experimentation, a set of constants and variables were established. ie. Base Variables – maintained constant through the course of a set experiments, but can be modified. Derived variables – are directly dependent on base variables. Informed Variables are values that are a result of design decisions and directly/indirectly affect the experiment and its results.

[auto]clay_variables[auto]clay_methodThis approach to the construction technique help establish a set of “rules” or strategies of aggregation that have advantages in terms of their structural, space-making and aesthetic value.


Experiments 1.0

These strategies lead to an initial set of robotic experiments to literally test the limits of these strategies, and thus the techniques. These limits were also informing the aforementioned variables and setting their domains.



Meanwhile, the applications and possibilities of the technique were also something that was brought to speed. The technique was applied to design a small housing unit with the understandings at that point in time.


The intertwining convex and concave curvature in the form significantly added to the structural stability, environmental performance and opportunities for integrating growth of suitable fauna into the structure.


The variation in size, and staggered aggregation of bullets facilitated ample opportunities to grow plants and other flora. This led to an interesting integration of “green” with architecture.


These thought experiments significant helped shape the research, and pushed to approach the problem in a different direction.

Experiments 2.0

Next set of experiments were designed to test numerous strategies to aid the space-making and architectural qualities of the aggregation process. These prototypes took advantage of their forms and their juxtaposition to resemble a wide range of architectural elements, viz. enclosures, passageways and openings.








The results of these experiments really pushed the research and added immense value to the sheer possibilities of this technique which were conceptualized and realized (at a prototype scale).

Design 2.0

The program hypothesized for this proposal was that of a museum for the sheer scale and requirements in terms of space-making, that would showcase the capabilities of the technique, and encourage further research into realizing these efforts.

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The last set of experiments and site’s environmental conditions largelt informed the design of this museum. The form took advantage of the predominant wind direction during the hottest period of the year to make the structure permeable and facilitate passive cooling.

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These forms largely improved the structural, architectural, and aesthetic performance of the structure.

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Steps forward

This research, shows promising results for application of this technique in not only, small isolated structures, but also large scale structures. There is however a gap, in terms of research and experiments – both digital and physical.


[auto]clay is a thesis project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the Master in Advanced Architecture 2021/22 C.Bio.Ma thesis cluster

by Student:

{Laukik Lad}

and Faculty:

{Marcos Cruz and Ricardo Mayor}


To view complete presentation follow this link.
To read complete research follow this link.