Stuttgart University’s ITKE Institute has designed and built their new ArboSkin pavilion out of 388 bioplastic pyramids. A 140-square foot digitally fabricated mock-up composed of recyclable components that can be freely shaped and manufactured as 3D façade elements, the project was created within the Institute’s Bioplastic Façade Research Program to demonstrate the aesthetic and structural potentials of bioplastics. The futuristic pavilion recently won a prize at one of Germany’s most important competitions for innovative ideas.
The blueprint of the shell structure is based on a network of triangular shapes of different sizes. The double curved skin is made of 3.5 mm thick bioplastic pyramids that are mechanically assembled to create the free form surface. The bioplastic sheets can be freely shaped and adapted to fit any requirement for building exteriors.
The technology needed for extruding the sheets was deployed in cooperation with project partner Bauer Thermoforming, an expert in shaping bioplastic sheets under high temperatures. Waste produced during the CNC milling process can be regranulated and reused to create more of these façade elements in 3D format. For its ArboSkin Pavilion, ITKE received an award at the prestigious national competition ‘Landmarks of in the Land of Ideas 2013/2014’ in the science category.
Bioplastics have so far been used for packaging, but with its new pavilion ITKE is hoping to promote the material as a green alternative to cement, the production of which accounts for eight percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. The highly flexible granules can be formed into any shape required by various designs. Also compostable, the materials is ideal for both exterior and interior applications.