Today I want to show you four videos of the ICD / ITKE Research Pavillon 2011 development and production process. The last two videos have been shown on the ICD’s facebook page a few weeks ago while the first two are new and reveal a bit of the design process that took place before the production began.

Video 1: Design Tool
Form-finding through the integration of biomimetic principles, manufacturing constraints and physical simulation

The main design tool we used for the final form-finding process is able to implement not only the principles and constraints we developed in the fields of biomimetics, fabrication and material behavior in the weeks before, but also architectural intentions and spatial qualities. As you can see in the first seconds of the video a cellular, circular mesh is being laid out on a flat plane. Each cell in this mesh represents one wooden cell of the pavilion as it can be seen later in the video. The mesh itself already has many developed principles implemented of which one can be seen quite easily: The cell sizes are not constant, but adapt to (future) local curvature and discontinuities. In the areas of small curvature the central cells are more than two meters tall, while at the edge they only reach half a meter.

In the next step the physical simulation starts and the mesh gets pulled towards a boundary curve. While the mesh is being pulled upwards by a reverse gravitational force the geometry also changes from a euclidean to an hyperbolic surface. This happens by connecting two opposite points of the original mesh and connecting the rest to the boundary curve. At the same time the mesh is both being relaxed and forced to form a double layer shell on the back of the pavilion. Depending on the internal pressure, the gravitational and other implemented forces the pavilion’s overall shape can be changed. Feedback loops make sure that the cells don’t get too small or too big.

Then, the cells’ morphology changes to their final polygonal shape. Three plate edges always meet together at just one point, a principle which enables the transmission of normal and shear forces but no bending moments between the joints, thus resulting in a bending bearing but yet deformable structure.

McNeel’s Rhinoceros was used throughout the project. The simulation was done with Grasshopper and Kangaroo (Kangaroo is a live physics engine for grasshopper developed by Daniel Piker).

Video 2: Automated NC-code Generation

This video shows a quick demo of what is happening to the data once the physical simulation and relaxation is complete. As you can see it’s not necessary to have the actual three-dimensional model of each plate built. The neighboring surfaces of every individual plate are enough information to calculate the finger joint’s and the miter’s angle. Afterwards, the nc-code is being generated and put into one file per plate.

Video 3: Robotic Fabrication

The NC-code milling path for each of the pavilion’s 852 unique plates was generated by a RhinoScript tool. Through the integration of a turn table as the seventh axis it was possible to fabricate each plate in just one process. Have a look at the pavilion’s page for pictures about the milling path generation. The total production process took about six weeks

Video 4: Construction Time Lapse

After finishing the base the cells were assembled one by one. An assembly sequence was chosen, which let an arch from the front and the back be closed as quick as possible in order to provide a structurally stable part onto which more cells could then be added. The whole process of assembling the cells, including sanding and glazing each plate, and the final assembly on site took about four weeks.