SPIDER - Subtraction as a measure to Preserve and Insulate historic Developments by Electric Robots

The purpose of this exploration is to unlock the potential of autonomous, data-driven robots that achieve improvements of the thermal building performance through air entrapments in a continuous process.

Short Description



Starting point / motivation

The ambitious goals of climate protection (cf. Paris climate protection goals of 2015) must be reflected considering many aspects of life, including construction. It is widely acknowledged that the design of new buildings in an energy efficient way is only a drop in the ocean, considering the low rate of new construction. The stock must therefore be thought and treated.

However, when it comes to the thermal renovation of Baukultur-significant building stock, one soon encounters limits in the application of conventional, i.e. "adding", principles (installation of thermal insulation panels on the outer façade). Against this background, it is significant that approximately 30% of the masonry depth of the historic solid brick masonry is not statically relevant.

Contents and goals

Based on the dramatically poor thermal resistance of the exterior walls of existing buildings, and at the same time considering the high social and cultural relevance of maintaining ornamented historical facades, the subtraction of material seems to be the key to a tremendous energetic improvement, without destroying the appearance of these buildings.

On the one hand, modern methods of analysis of force and sound propagation, on the other hand modern and easily available possibilities of robotics and the meanwhile high efficiency of photovoltaics and battery technology, allow to explore a concept that investigates a fully automatic, purely solar-powered refurbishment.

The aim is to develop a renovation system that is not only in the result, but already in the construction phase highly ecological and highly economical.


  1. Exact investigation of the historical masonry structure and its functions
  2. Determination of the overall potential for improvement (energy, CO2, etc) compared to conventional methods of remediation
  3. Literature research and expert interviews
  4. thermal and static simulation based on 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  5. Determination of strategies of the movements of facade robots based on 4.
  6. Test Drilling and Test Runs
  7. Evaluation and analysis

Expected results

The research project SPIDER pursues a path deviating from conventional research and development processes. A radically alternative concept (subtractive rather than additive construction) is double-checked on its feasibility but above all on its potential.

If it is possible to show that the investigated concept is feasible and sufficiently efficient regarding the reduction of thermal conductivity, the path to industrial development is opened with the prospect of a national or European-wide patent.

With other partners, the founding of a spin-off / start-up can then be considered.

Project Partners

Project management

Univ.Ass. Dipl.-Ing. Arch. Bernhard Sommer - Universität für Angewandte Kunst, Abteilung Energie Design

Project or cooperation partners

  • Mag.arch. Galo Moncayo, MFA; BFA - Universität für Angewandte Kunst, Abteilung Energie Design
  • Dipl.-Ing. Malgorzata Sommer-Nawara - Universität für Angewandte Kunst, Abteilung Energie Design
  • Univ. Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Peter Bauer - TU Wien, Institut für Architekturwissenschaften
  • Univ. Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Ardeshir Mahdavi - TU Wien, Institut für Architekturwissenschaften
  • Univ.Ass. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. - TU Wien, Institut für Architekturwissenschaften

Contact Address

Bernhard Sommer
Oskar Kokoschka-Platz 2
A-1010 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (699) 195 69 794
E-mail: bernhard.sommer@uni-ak.ac.at
Web: www.dieangewandte.at; energy design blog tumblr