An exciting fusion between robotics and architecture is on the rise, and the potential of digital fabrication is wonderfully expressed in the stunning Elytra Filament Pavilion. Designed by a team at the University of Stuttgart, the robotically woven structure is now on view at Germany’s Vitra Design Museum after its premiere at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The experimental pavilion is an artistic exploration between architecture, engineering, and biomimicry principles, weaving carbon fiber into fibrous structures inspired by beetles.
Installed as part of the Vitra’s “Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine” exhibition, the 200-square-meter Elytra Filament Pavilion shows off the power of robotics in architecture. The University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) developed a unique robotic fabrication technique to create the pavilion’s 40 modular hexagonal units, each of which weigh 45 kilograms and take about three hours to make.
A computer algorithm determined the pavilion’s design, which was then produced with the help of a robot. Taking cues from the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the computer-programmed Kuka robot spun resin-soaked glass and carbon fibers into hexagonal scaffolds and densely wound fibers into the canopy. The entire pavilion weighs 2.5 tonnes and is “exceptionally lightweight,” weighing less than 9 kilograms per square meter.
“With Elytra Filament Pavilion we aim to celebrate a truly contemporary and integrative approach to design, engineering and production, resulting in a distinctive spatial and aesthetic experience,” said Achim Menges, an architect behind the project.
“The canopy grows in response to real-time sensing data, showcasing the profound impact of emerging technologies and related new alliances between the fields of design, engineering and natural science. Through this we seek to provide visitors with a unique experience that offers a glimpse of novel architectural and engineering possibilities, which may transform our built environment in the future.”
Images by Julien Lanoo