A giant web-like forest is engulfing the courtyard of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum—and it’s all thanks to the work of robots. As part of an effort to highlight the importance of engineers—our “unsung heroes”—and their work in our daily lives, a team from the University of Stuttgart has developed a robotically built carbon-fiber pavilion for the V&A’s first-ever Engineering Season. Titled the Elytra Filament Pavilion, the garden installation marries nature and technology in an insect-inspired design based on the fibrous structure of a beetle’s hardened forewing, called elytra.
The Elytra Filament Pavilion is a remarkable feat of engineering that’s impressive not only for its looks and its novel robotic production process, but also for its lightweight fibrous composite frame. Each unique hexagonal component weighs just 45 kilograms (99 pounds) and is made from transparent glass fiber and black carbon fiber. Architect and research Achim Menges designed the biomimetic pavilion in collaboration with architect Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer.
While the pavilion currently measures 200 square meters in size, the carbon-fiber forest will gradually grow larger overtime. An on-site robot that can determine where to install a new funnel shape leg will weave a canopy around a metal formwork that’s then cured into its hexagonal shape. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the robot in action. The pavilion will be on show until November 6, 2016.
“We may not know it, but engineers organise the world we live in,” says Martin Roth, Director of the V&A. “Our lives are reliant on visible and invisible systems conceived, built, run or facilitated by the many disciplines of contemporary engineering. The V&A Engineering Season is a clear statement in our renewed interest in industrial design and the engineer. It builds on our industrial design heritage and reflects the crucial role of engineering in the development of the V&A. Through collaborating with pioneering engineers and architects, such as Achim Menges and progressive consultancies such as Arup, the season will celebrate the wonder and importance of engineering in our lives.”
Images via University of Stuttgart