Digital Design of a Thin-shell Metal Woven Pavilion



The Thin-shell Metal Woven Pavilion observes a new approach to digital metal construction. Its segmented metal shell is based on biological principles found in the birds’ nest, which have been studied by the team with academic curiosity for a long time.

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Photograph by Liu Jia

It has an integrated ultra-thin shell, associate with a pure experience of the centripetal dome, which guides one to become more aware of oneself and return to inner peace.

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Photograph by XISUI Digital & LA Studio

 

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Photograph by Fanxi Architecture Studio

This stunning metal roof spans 11 meters over the water, using a minimum amount of material and manual manufacturing while also generating a unique architectural space. The metal pavilion attempt to exploring new possibilities in design, engineering, and fabrication through continuous computational test with cross-disciplinary teams.

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Photograph by Fanxi Architecture Studio

1. Fabrication Development – the shell works as structure

Conventionally, a pavilion, with a structure of 11 by 8 meters span, must have an extraordinarily strong supporting foundation. To challenge that, our concept is a keel-free design. It will be realized through an expressive doubly curved structure so that only a thin surface is needed for the load-bearing task.

Model

Site plan

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Based on the calculation of wind loads and gravity loads, only 2 layers of 2.5 mm thick metal plate segments were applied to achieve a 4400-times span. The shell works as a form-active structure and its mechanics are simple as historical vaulted buildings and the eggshells of birds in nature.

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Photograph by XISUI Digital & LA Studio

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Digital fabricator Zhang Lei

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↑The form study based on paper model

The form study based on A4 paper of thin-shell structure with arch carrying load

 

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↑The form study based on 3D printing

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↑Handmade metal model 1:10

2. Easy-to-Build Digitally Construction

We programmed a dedicated application for curvature analysis and deformation calculation. The whole hyperboloid is divided into 469 bespoke metal segments with different sizes. Through digitally fabrication process, these segments enable to ensure that fit together precisely and easier processing.

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This is a welding-free construction, and all fabricated shell segments are simply pre-made and transported to the site, where they can assemble and form together precisely. That is means, without the usually required extensive scaffolding or formwork, only few craftsmen could take over the whole assembling process.

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Photograph by XISUI Digital & LA Studio

By employing this integrative digital approach, labor cost is dramatically reduced, and craftsmanship is extremely precise, that to ensure the visual effect of the doubly curved geometry is smooth and soft.

3. Assembling and Flexibility

During the overall construction of the project, we have abandoned the traditional manual welding technique – instead, bolts are used for point-to-point and high-precision milling. This technique is applied to complete the entire construction from the assembled of foundation to the main body.

 

The advantage of this is that each removable bolt is digitally designed and endorsed to ensure the accuracy of the final form; Thus, avoiding the form-finding errors associated with the traditional manual manufacturing.

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Photograph by XISUI Digital & LA Studio

Benefit from the flexibility, parts or the whole structure can be replaced or move to sustainability. All building elements are designed for disassembly and reuse on a different site. From this point of view, life of the project also gains continuity and permanence.

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Photograph by XISUI Digital & LA Studio

  1. 4. Immersive Experience

The Thin-shell Metal Woven Pavilion is located over a pool. A sunken entrance will guide visitors to relax and enjoy themselves under the water surfaces. This hidden path provides privacy and intimate space that will increase perception and energize visitor’s imagination of nature before they enter the pavilion.

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Photograph by Fanxi Architecture Studio

Many tiny openings are carefully “embedded” between the fabricated surfaces and enable light penetrates the interior space. These spotted natural light inviting visitors to step closer, it forms dynamic layers of illumination that echo the structure on the dome.

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Photograph by XISUI Digital & LA Studio

The light choreography inside the pavilion transcends the static ambience – a cycle that changes with the course of sunlight and cloud gloom.

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Photograph by Liu Jia

White color is carefully chosen as the exterior finishes. While together with water reflection of the pavilion that shape the project a flawless destination. However, the Interior is matt brown-gold. The low brightness of the internal space allows an immersive experience as if exploring in a deep cave, which led visitor to a deep experience of calm.

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Photograph by XISUI Digital & LA Studio

Wandering inside, you will experience the sensation of the walls and the dome.

It is a metaphor of surrounded by the mountain and the sea – a feeling of returning to the silence and profoundness.

Practicing mediation and focusing on inner peace, the shell creates a perfect space that provides incredibly good perception mood and generates a unique architectural atmosphere.

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Photograph by XISUI Digital & LA Studio

Beside busy city life, the Thin-shell Metal Woven Pavilion wishes to offer a break moment of contemplative state for more and more urban guests.

Project location: China, Anhui Province, Hefei City

Design year:  2020

Year Built:  2020

 

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