A new primary school in rural China will be constructed by combining local skills with new technologies including industrial robots.

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), the rural school in China’s Jiangxi province, Lushan Primary School is being built to accommodate 120 children from 12 villages in the region.

A network of barrel and parabolic vaults will form the primary structure of the school building, with the vaulted classrooms oriented to capture natural light as well as provide views to the surrounding landscape consisting of mountains, rivers and lakes. An overhanging roof over each arched structure will provide shade to the large windows.

Given the rural location, ZHA plans to use local in-situ concrete construction skills as well as hot-wire cut foam formwork that will be prepared onsite by an industrial robot to create the barrel and parabolic shaped moulds.

This will not only optimise construction time but also reduce the need to transport construction elements to the site. The moulds to create the vaults can be used multiple times for the modular design, helping further speed up construction and reduce costs.

Modular building forms are increasingly being built using robots. A new method of robotic construction pioneered by researchers at ETH Zurich University is being used to construct a new modular house.

The design is first modelled on a computer to achieve the most optimum design for individual units, and then built by a team of robots. These robots are used to guide beams for sawing and drilling holes, and positioning the beams for workers. Robotic construction allows the design to be changed or modified by constantly adjusting the computer model.