ICD, ITKE, Stuttgart, research pavilion, temporary pavilion, temporary architecture, fiber skin, digital fabrication, lightweight materials, lightweight structure

Water spiders spend most of their life under water. They don’t have gills but they do have a really neat way of breathing. They construct a reinforced air bubble by spinning the web on the water surface and collect air bubbles to fill it from underneath. They enter the bubble every time they need air. The bubble is a stable structure that can withstand mechanical stresses and strong water currents.

ICD, ITKE, Stuttgart, research pavilion, temporary pavilion, temporary architecture, fiber skin, digital fabrication, lightweight materials, lightweight structure

The team of students and researchers decided to translate this adaptive fabrication strategy into architecture. With previous pavilions, the teams removed the formwork once the materials hardened, but this time, the formwork became part of the final structure. An industrial robot was placed within an air supported membrane envelope made of ETFE. This inflated soft shell is initially supported by air pressure, but by robotically reinforcing the inside with carbon fiber, it is gradually stiffened into a self-supporting structure.

Related: ICD and ITKE’s Robotically Woven Pavilion Mimics the Structural Performance of Beetle Shells

During the fabrication process, the gradual stiffening of the skin was recorded via an embedded sensor system and integrated into the robot control in real time. This provided constant feedback of the actual production conditions.

+ ICD Institute for Computational Design

+ ITKE