Marble has been seen as the gold standard of sculpture for millennia. From Ancient Greek statues to contemporary works of architecture, this is the material that demands nothing less than the eyes, hands, and heart of a dedicated craftsman. But all that might just be about to change. Just ask yourself, what if the works of Michelangelo could be rendered by a new breed of artisan robots?
This might have seemed like a situation best left to the realms of science fiction just a few short years ago, but it could soon become a reality. That was proven by Daniel Nguyen, a student the Yale School of Architecture. Collaborating with Yale, Autodesk, The Digital Stone Project, and Garfagnana Innovazione, he managed to fabricate a breathtakingly intricate facade out of marble using a state of the art robotic CNC milling machine.
The solid slab of marble was simply part of Nguyen’s course, but it was quickly chosen to be made in full scale in Italy. The final product is a part of a much larger façade, with each piece of marble milled in the same fashion.
The beauty achieved by robotics is just as impressive as its ability to sculpt marble in the first place. Nguyen’s design was incredibly intricate, a piece of work that would have demanded hour upon hour of attention from a craftsman, and therein lies the advantage for future designers.
While marble carving expertise have traditionally been seen as belonging to a select few, the ability of robots to carve marble suggests that we will see such carvings become cheaper and easier to find. After all, a robot can simply be loaded with a certain design and then left to work. The marble itself may still demand a premium price, but the cost of labour will be dramatically reduced.
At the same time, a sense of uniformity can now be achieved that would have been impossible under the hands of man. Should a designer want to create a piece made out of marble to appeal to a wide-range of people, their designs could be sent to robots across the world and then finished much faster than before. If you’re the sort of person who always found marble attractive but was held back by the cost, your reservations could soon prove groundless.