The buildings of the future could be built with the help of drones. The unmanned aerial vehicles were put to the test in the University of Stuttgart’s latest robotically constructed pavilion, the cantilevering ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2016-17. Inspired by leaf miner moths, the biomimetic pavilion is lightweight yet incredibly strong and is made from 184 kilometers of resin-impregnated glass and carbon fiber.
Created as part of a series of digitally fabricated pavilions, the ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2016-17 explores the potential of fiber composite materials in architecture and scalable fabrication processes. Spanning twelve meters in length, the cantilevering research pavilion has a surface area of approximately 40 square meters that weighs 1,000 kilograms. Its woven design draws inspiration from the silk “hammocks” spun by the larvae of leaf miner moths.
The pavilion was constructed with two different types of robots: flying drones and stationary machines. Two stationary machines were set up on the far points of the pavilion and were equipped with industrial robotic arms strong enough to wind the carbon fiber threads. The drones were used to pass the fiber between the two stationary machines. The two types of robots communicated without the need for human intervention using an integrated sensor interface that collected real-time data.
“The pavilion’s overall geometry demonstrates the possibilities for fabricating structural morphologies through multi-stage volumetric fibre winding, reducing unnecessary formwork through an integrated bending-active composite frame, and increasing the possible scale and span of construction through integrating robotic and autonomous lightweight UAV fabrication processes,” wrote the interdisciplinary team. “The prototypical pavilion is a proof-of-concept for a scalable fabrication processes of long-span, fibre composite structural elements, suitable for architectural applications.”
Photographs by Burggraf / Reichert