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Walking Assembly

These 13,000-Pound Concrete Blocks Can Be Moved With One Hand—and They Provide Vital Clues About How Stonehenge Was Made

The project may reveal how the mysterious ancient site was assembled—and provide insight into the future of architecture.

The design lab’s principal Brandon Clifford detailed their findings during a talk at TED’s 2019 conference which is being held in Vancouver.Video documentation of their research illustrates the possibility of moving large concrete forms and assembling them into multi-level platforms, walls, and even staircases. using rounded edges and handle points the components can be easily rocked, tilted, and rolled into place. 

The research looks at the density of Massive Masonry Units (MMU’s) and their center of mass. By using variable density concrete, the center of mass is calibrated precisely to control their stability. This ensures that these massive elements successfully walk and assemble into place.

Matter design studio has created two projects in collaboration with CEMEX, janus and walking assembly, which demonstrate methods for assembling massive construction elements without the use of a crane. The architects were inspired by Moai statues on Easter Island, which weigh up to 82 tons a piece and were reportedly moved by walking themselves.

Real-life applications could make it both easier and cheaper to build in areas that are difficult to access. It could also make it simpler to assemble and disassemble structures built using these materials, therefore avoiding the need to demolish them and instead make new configurations.