It’s a beautiful, quiet spot surrounded by nature. The livMatS Pavilion looks like an amazing spot to relax and take pictures, but it’s also the first-ever building with a load-bearing structure completely made out of robotically wound flax fiber.

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A kind of parabola-shaped pavilion covered in a reflective material in the middle of a forest.

The livMatS Pavilion is a feature of the Botanic Garden Freiburg in Germany. The flax it’s made from is available throughout Central Europe, and it’s fully renewable and biodegradable. A team of architects and engineers worked together to create the distinct design of this pavilion.

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The name, livMatS, means “living, adaptive and energy-autonomous material system.” Not only is the pavilion made with renewable materials, but the materials were made using robotic techniques. The design is extremely complicated, made with wound flax material to create a safe structure and unique look.

A person standing under the pavilion.

Fiber composites have an incredible strength-to-weight ratio. It’s a perfect building block for creating strong yet lightweight structures that are fully biodegradable and made with renewable resources. Fibers made of both carbon and glass are already widely used in the aerospace and automobile industries. However, natural fibers are not widely used in the construction industry.

The inside of the pavilion, looking at the roof made of intricately woven fibers.

Flax fiber has been used to make linen for thousands of years. Flax is similar to glass fibers in regard to stiffness and weight, with one key difference; flax has a lower embodied energy. This resource also grows annually in crop cycles and is available across Central Europe. A team of engineers and architects worked together to explore the potential of this natural fiber for construction use. LivMatS is the result of that hard work.

A kind of parabola-shaped pavilion covered in a reflective material in the middle of a forest.

Natural shapes were the inspiration behind the pavilion. The lines and curves of the saguaro cactus and the prickly pear cactus served as models for this gorgeous building. The saguaro cactus is hollow with a net-like supportive structure inside.

A person standing under the lit up pavilion at night.

A waterproof polycarbonate skin covers the entire structure. This protects the fibers from UV rays and moisture. With the help of robots, 15 flax fiber components are continuously spun and crafted into a strong structure.

The pavilion will be an outdoor lecture space for the University of Freiburg for the next five years. The botanic garden around the pavilion is used as a research and training site already.

+ University of Freiburg

Images via ICD/ITKE/IntCDC University of Stuttgart