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ICD-ITKE Research Pavilion 2016-17

Updated: May 27, 2018

Inspired by two species of leaf miner moths, ICD - ITKE University of Stuttgart Research Pavilion 2016-2017 is one of the five finalists of ArchDaily's Small Scale Building of the Year 2018 Awards.

The Institute of Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart have completed a research pavilion exploring building-scale robotic fabrication of glass and carbon fibre-reinforced composites inspired by nature. The project was designed and fabricated by students and researchers within an interdisciplinary team of architects, engineers and biologists. The goal of the ICD-ITKE Research Pavilion 2016-17 is to envision a scalable fabrication process and to test alternative scenarios for architectural application by developing a manufacturing process for long span continuous fibre structures.

The novel process is based on the unique affordances and characteristics of fibre construction. Because these materials are lightweight and have high tensile strength, a radically different approach to fabrication becomes possible, which combines low-payload yet long-range machines, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), with strong, precise, yet limited reach, industrial robots. This collaborative concept enables a scalable fabrication setup for long span fibre composite construction.  The research builds on a series of successful pavilions, which investigate integrative computational design, engineering and fabrication, and explores their spatial ramifications and construction possibilities.

Using a buttom-up approach, functional principles and construction logics of natural lightweight structures were analysed and abstracted in cooperation with the Institute of Evolution and Ecology and the department for Paleobiology of the University of Tübingen. Two species of leaf miner moths whose larvae spin silk hammocks stretching between connection points on a bent leaf, were identified as particularly promising for the transfer of morphological and procedural principles for long span fibrous construction. Several concepts were abstracted from the biological role models and transferred into fabrication and structural concepts, including: the combination of a bending-active substructure and coreless wound fibre reinforcement to create an integrated composite winding frame, fibre orientation and hierarchy over a long span structure and multi-stage volumetric fibre laying processes for the generation of complex three dimensional geometries.    

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