Designers: Dimitrie Stefanescu, Patrick Bedarf, Bogdan Hambasan Location: Cluj, Romania Project Year: 2011 Workshop Team: Ciprian Colda, Anamaria Androne, Razvan Sencu, Madalin Gheorghe Assembly Team: Bogdan Badila, Vlad Pop, Georgiana Hlihor, Denisa Lula, Robert Veber, Zoltan Vaida, Imre Vekove, Ciprian Colda, Mihai Pascalau, Calin Negret, Bogdan Borbei, Iustin Nechiti, Dan Ioanici, Razvan Luca, Stefan Grosariu, Ioana Suceava, Alexandra Man, Andreea Darac, Irina Mates, Oana Bogatan, Andrei Varga, Radu Badila, Elza Sandor, Alex Greceniuc, Oana Matei, Alex Vladovici, Marcel Oprean, Ioan Pop, Vlad Rusu, Ioana Tomoioaga Photographs: Patrick Bedarf, Georgiana Hlihor, Daniel Bondas, Georgeta Macovei
Intro The project started out as an ambitious student-powered endeavor to design and fabricate at a 1:1 scale the flagship pavilion for the ZA11 Speaking Architecture event in Cluj, Romania. While at the same time integrating into its historically-charged context, the design boasts a strong representational power which was much needed in order to fulfill its main goal: attracting passers-by to the event. The object tries to make legible the new ontology which is slowly defined by computational architecture and is a showcase for the processes empowered by it. At the same time, the pavilion offers a sheltered space for the unfolding of different social events pertaining to the corresponding architecture festival.
Process The design was elaborated during a parametric design workshop specifically geared towards its production. We were faced with the harsh requirements of creating an actually working design with the material and tools available from sponsors (Graphtec, Holver) while at the same time fitting inside a budget dwarfed by its expectations. Therefore we constrained the creative exploration agenda to a relatively limited approach which, most importantly, was scalable in terms of materials and fabrication techniques. The final design consists of 746 unique pieces, which, once assembled, create a free-form ring which is subdivided into deep hexagons. This particular geometrical configuration allowed for the sheltering of the different planned events while at the same time inciting curiosity through its unusual, spectacular form. The realization of the design was made possible by advanced use of parametric design techniques, with the help of which the whole process was controlled from exact geometry generation to piece labeling, assembly logic and actual fabrication (CNC milling).
The actual assembly process wouldn’t have been possible without the team of students which volunteered to help. As an educational exercise it completed the design phase and proved to be invaluable in terms of actually understanding and working with the constraints encountered in real-life. Varying material thickness (and subsequent extra flexibility and less joint stiffness), rain and wind posed many challenges which had to be resolved on-site as quickly as possible so as to meet the assembly deadline.
Conclusions The ZA11 Pavilion emerged as a powerful urban attractor which managed to engage the local society on all levels. Interest was aroused in both young and senior citizens, both professionals and non-architects by the completed pavilion as well as during the act of its construction, thus proving to be more than an indifferent temporary shelter. Furthermore, it successfully provided a flexible and comfortable space for the different events pertaining to the event (temporary bookshop, open-air cinema, tea party, jam sessions and a small concert + sleeping in the sun) to unfold. The first of its kind in Romania, the ZA11 Pavilion can be definitively called a successful architectural experiment. Designed and assembled only by students (with little preliminary outside help), it successfully met all expectations and proved to be an invaluable experience in blending avant-garde design techniques with a low budget and a skeptical professional context.