Stereoform Slab Research Project

Stereoform Slab is a prototype for a future building system designed using advanced robotic fabrication techniques. As an alternative to the ubiquitous concrete slab, it demonstrates an innovative method to dramatically reduce the carbon impact of construction.

The concrete slab is the most common element in contemporary construction, and research shows that 40 to 60 percent of a building’s carbon footprint results from the development of the concrete slab itself. In debuting a sustainable fabrication technique of concrete formwork using advanced robotics, the design team used 20 percent less concrete than a conventional system, resulting in a 20 percent overall carbon reduction.

The Stereoform Slab extends the length of the conventional concrete span while reducing concrete quantities. When deployed as a structural system throughout a building, it has the potential to extend a building’s lifecycle—further reducing the carbon footprint, as longer bays can more easily be adapted to changing demands.

Achieving an optimal balance between concrete and reinforcing steel was one of the primary considerations during the design process. In many regions, most reinforcing steel is recycled, and therefore the lifecycle carbon cost is much lower than concrete. The project shows how context and location can affect optimization models: the design can be revised in a way that is hyper-responsive to local material limitations.

Finding more efficient concrete forms and systems requires a complex synthesis of design, optimization, and fabrication, across all disciplines and trades. Stereoform Slab was designed and constructed in partnership with Odico Construction Robotics, Sterling Bay, McHugh Construction, and Autodesk, and was first presented in partnership with the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.