Graduate Architecture

Robert Stuart-Smith

Assistant Professor of Architecture
Director of the Autonomous Manufacturing lab (AML-PENN)
Director of the MSD-RAS Program

Robert Stuart-Smith is Program Director for the Masters of Science in Design: Robotics and Autonomous Systems degree (MSD-RAS), Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Weitzman School of Design, and an Affiliate Faculty member of Penn Engineering's GRASP Lab. He directs the Autonomous Manufacturing Lab in Penn's Department of Architecture (AML-PENN), and co-directs its sister lab in University College London's Department of Computer Science (AML-UCL). Stuart-Smith's research operates at the intersection of generative design, robotic fabrication, and collective robotic construction — developing an integrated approach to architectural design, manufacturing, and robot behavior through varying degrees of programmed autonomy that enables more efficient, situated, and adaptive means to engage with the built environment, offering reductions to the environmental and economic impact of building while exploring alternative forms of aesthetic design expression. This research is being developed through funded projects including as P-I for the £1.2mil EPSRC project "Applied Off-site and On-site Collective Multi-Robot Autonomous Building Manufacturing" and as Co-I for a £2.9mil EPSRC research project into "Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing (Aerial ABM)." Stuart-Smith's research involves collaborations with industry partners including Cemex, Skanska, Mace, Burohappold, Arup, MTC, Ultimaker, Kuka, and others on projects including a full-size prototype "Siteless House" to be constructed on Penn's campus in partnership with other Weitzman Faculty, a Penn Alum, and Cemex Global R&D. Siteless House leverages robotic fabrication and state of the art concrete to enable a light-weight, design-for-disassembly, relocatable building as an alternative to mobile tiny houses or permanent buildings that require private land ownership. Stuart-Smith is a co-founder of Kokkugia (2004), an experimental architectural research collaborative that developed generative architectural design methodologies modelled on the complex self-organising behavior of biological, social and material systems, and founder of architectural and design practice; Robert Stuart-Smith Design (RSSD) that develops building projects using custom design-computation and robotic fabrication methods, including a 3d printed house. Stuart-Smith's practice experience extends to cultural, commercial, infrastructural and residential projects, having also worked for Grimshaw Architects and Lab Architecture Studio, and engineering firm Arup's Advanced Geometry Unit with Cecil Balmond on computational design-engineering research. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn in 2017, Stuart-Smith was a Studio Course Master in the AA School’s Design Research Laboratory in London from 2009-17, also holding visiting professorships at Washington University, RMIT, University of Innsbruck, and University of East London. Stuart-Smith's work has been published in journals including Science Robotics, AD Architectural Design, Domus, Architecture D’Aujourd’hui, and featured in TV documentaries on BBC. He has lectured and presented in symposia at institutions including MIT, AA, Sci-Arc, CCA, RMIT, Angewandte Vienna, Strelka Institute Moscow, Tsinghua University, Texas A+M, and others.