Shadow Pavilion / PLY Architecture

© PLY Architecture

Architects: PLY Architecture
Location: University of Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, ,
Project Team: Karl Daubmann & John Marshall assisted by Ngoc Thy Phan & Alex Timmer
Structural Advisor: Andy Greco, SDI Additional
Construction help provided by: Peggy Chong, Jessica Mattson, Katie Santer, Dwight Song, Alex Watanabe
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: PLY Architecture

© PLY Architecture

The Shadow Pavilion explores the paradox of a perforated structure where the removal of material makes a structure lighter and weaker. The Shadow Pavilion, designed for a site at the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens, is both a structure and a space made entirely of holes. The pavilion surface is made with over 100 aluminum laser cut cones that vary in size. Beyond testing the limits of sheet aluminum, the cones will act to funnel light and sound to the interior space, offering visitors a space to take in the views and sounds of the surrounding landscape. Organizational schemes for the cones are explored, including the logic behind the concept of phyllotaxis. In botany, phyllotaxis describes a plant’s spiral packing arrangement of its elements. The organization of the cones may limit the form, but can strengthen the structure. The laser cutting process uses the digital design information to precision cut and finish the aluminum cones. The pavilion’s surface will maintain the natural aluminum finish and smooth edges resulting from the laser cutter.

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Cite: "Shadow Pavilion / PLY Architecture" 20 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>