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These Massive Concrete Units Are Designed To Be Moved Easily With The Hands

Walking Assembly / Matter Design + CEMEX Global R&D

Matter Design

Cambridge-based firm Matter Design Studio has teamed up with CEMEX Global R&D to realize these seemingly ‘weightless’ concrete forms that can be easily moved with the hands. The mysterious knowledge surrounding the transportation and placement of megalithic structures of the past eludes contemporary building practices. Walking Assembly re-introduces the potentials of that ancient knowledge to better inform the transportation and assembly of future architectures.



If a brick is designed for a single hand, and a concrete masonry unit (CMU) is designed for two, these massive masonry units (MMU) unshackle the dependency between size and the human body. Intelligence of transportation and assembly is designed into the elements themselves, liberating humans to guide these colossal concrete elements into place. Structures that would otherwise rely on cranes or heavy equipment can now be intelligently assembled and disassembled with little energy.

 Walking Assembly / Matter Design + CEMEX Global R&D

By using variable density concrete, the center of mass of the object is calibrated precisely to control the stable, but easy motion of the elements. This ensures that these massive elements successfully walk and assemble into place, creating the possibility for a crane-less tilt up construction method and turning our building sites into spectacles of play. The conclusion of the video demo above also suggests how these massive objects could be used to create inhabitable structures. Using rounded edges and handle points the components can be easily rocked, tilted, and rolled into place.

 Walking Assembly / Matter Design + CEMEX Global R&D

Principals: Brandon Clifford & Johanna Lobdell (Matter Design), Davide Zampini (CEMEX Global R&D)
Matter Design Project Lead: Tyler Swingle
Matter Design Project Team: Daniel Marshall, Mackenzie Muhonen, Gil Sunshine
CEMEX Global R&D Project Leads: Alexandre Guerini, Carlos Enrique Terrado, Matthew John Meyers
Acknowledgements: Funding provided by CEMEX Global R&D