With support from a Flash Grant from the Princeton University Humanities Council, Black Box is developing new expertise toward the design and fabrication of felted architecture.  The work developed a number of grasshopper scripts to translate needle-felting into robotic and CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) operations.  This involved the design and fabrication of felt-specific end effectors for the ABB robots in the Architectural Lab. 

This rapid research developed new ways of working with organic materials.  The Felting Algorithm prototypes remain displayed and accessible to students in the BioFabrication shed, adjacent to the Embodied Computation Lab (ECL).  The Biofabrication shed exists in the exterior research space of the ECL.   Felting Algorithms aims to initiate a line of inquiry toward renewable and organically growing, degradable materials, in the midst of computationally-driven design.  

Princeton Black Box at the Embodied Computation Lab, Princeton University. Assistant Professor V. Mitch McEwen with two part-time graduate researchers, Laura Fegely and Kaleb Houston.  Summer 2022.

Felting paths for industrial scale ABB robot arms

Since summer 2019, the Black Box Research Group has steadily revamped a discarded 8’x 8′ x 8′ construction methods exercise into the smallest lab on Princeton’s campus, a facility dedicated to biofabrication.  The revamp included insulating with ‘hempcrete’.  According to regional hemp building material suppliers, this is the largest hemp insulated structure in New Jersey.

The facility is used for research projects and course lab work, including for undergraduate ARC311.

Spring 2022 students in ARC568 Robotic Architecture Workshop were joined by guests from Brooklyn’s GBA and NewLab to launch the first Biofabrication Bonanza — a day of demos, tutorials, and talks on biofabrication, along with hands-on workshops, robotics, and music. All at the Architecture Lab / ECL and Labatut.  Biofabrication Bonanza was funded by the Council on Science and Technology with support from PUIC and GSRC.

guests sit in glass building with bioplastic forms hanging