ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2014-15
Design andInst. for Computational Design and Construction (Prof. Menges)
Construction:Inst. of Building Structures & Structural Design (Prof. Knippers)
Responsibility:Developing Computational Tool, Operating Robot on Site
Dimensions:40 m², 125 m³ and 260 kg
Images credits:ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart

The ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2014-15 demonstrates the architectural potential of a novel building method inspired by the underwater nest construction of the water spider. Through a novel robotic fabrication process an initially flexible pneumatic form-work is gradually stiffened by reinforcing it with carbon fibers from the inside. The resulting lightweight fiber composite shell forms a pavilion with unique architectural qualities, while at the same time being a highly material-efficient structure.

The Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) continue their series of research pavilions with the new ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2014-15 at the University of Stuttgart. These building prototypes explore application potentials of novel computational design, simulation and fabrication processes in architecture. The pavilion was developed at the intersection of the two institute’s research fields and their collaborative teaching in the context of the interdisciplinary and international ITECH MSc program. This prototypical project is the result of one and a half years of development by researchers and students of architecture, engineering and natural sciences.

At the beginning of the design and construction process, the shell geometry and main fiber bundle locations are generated by a computational form finding method, which integrates fabrication constraints and structural simulation. In order to determine and adjust the fiber layouts a computational agent-based design method has been developed. Similar to the spider, a digital agent navigates the surface shell geometry generating a proposed robot path for the fiber placement. The agent behavior is derived from a variety of interrelated design parameters. This computational design process enables the designer to navigate and simultaneously integrate these design parameters into various performative fiber orientations and densities.