“The poché, or the mediation between one surface geometry and another, becomes increasingly important as architects continue to expand their design vocabulary with the aid of digital tools. Likewise, as the environmental and economic advantages of renovating and retrofitting existing structures become more apparent, fitting precise and digitally designed models to the imprecise surfaces of an existing edifice becomes more necessary. In this paper, we present an in-progress report on the development of a surfacing technique which utilizes a robotic manipulator as reconfigurable formwork for laying ceramic tiles over an imprecise structure. Whereas the human tile-worker must rely on a steady-substrate for lack of a steady-hand, the robot is capable of holding tiles in their designated position and orientation indefinitely (namely, until the bonding material sets). The process involves creating a digital model of a tile surface which is loosely offset from a low-resolution or irregular substrate surface. Tile positions are taken from the digital model, and are placed sequentially by a robotic manipulator equipped with a vacuum gripper. Each tile is held steadily in position while polyurethane-based expanding foam is sprayed to fill the gap and create the bond between the tile and the existing surface.”
-Abstract from Foley, Nicholas and Ryan Johns. “Irregular Substrate Tiling: The Robotic Poché,” Rob|Arch 2012: Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Industrial Design (Vienna: Springer 2013), 222-229.