LocationKowloon Park, Hong Kong
CollaboratorsGilles Retsin, EDGE Laboratory for Architectural and Urban Research, Tampere University of Technology, UPM Kymmene
From the architect. The Dragon Skin Pavilion is an architectural art installation that challenges and explores the spatial, tactile, and material possibilities architecture is offered today by revolutions in digital fabrication and manufacturing technology. Its highly expressive and porous skin questions the notion of boundary: as light and views are filtered, softened and dampened towards the interior, the interior is slowly and more hesitantly revealed outwards.
The emerging patterns and rhythms of the pavilion challenge the perception of structure versus structurally defined ornament. A careful balance takes place between the regular, repetitive framework of the rectangular panels and their gradually irregular interconnections as they configure the overall shape. The combination of a new material and contemporary digital design and fabrication methods allowed us to execute an accurate construction process without the need of conventional on-site communication methods like plans or drawings.
The origins of the pavilion are in a test study workshop we held at the Tampere University of Technology for Finnish architecture students in the autumn of 2011. A first version of the pavilion was designed and built from scratch in only 8 days. For the 2012 Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture we crafted, together with an international team consisting of material and structural engineers, a structurally impeccable and Hong Kong –type – humidity - proof second version of the pavilion.
The sole material used in the pavilion is post-formable Grada Plywood, a brand new material that seems to revolutionize the bent plywood industry. A CNC-router was used to make a wooden mould in which pre-heated flat rectangular pieces were bent into shape. A computer programmed 3D master model generated the cutting files for those pieces in a file-to-factory process: algorithmic procedures were scripted to give every rectangular component their precisely calculated slots for the sliding joints, all in gradually shifting positions and angles to give the final assembled pavilion its curved form. A meticulously pre-choreographed montage sequence required all components to be uniquely labelled and numbered for assembling or dismantling the structure. The 163 plywood components were manufactured in Finland at TUT and shipped to Hong Kong, where our team assembled the pavilion on the exhibition area situated in Kowloon Park.
The exhibition was opened for the public on the 16th of February and continues until the 23rd of April. Among the exhibitors are renowned architects such as OMA, Steven Holl Architects, MVRDV and Reiser & Umemoto Architects.
See the whole project documented in Dragon Skin Pavilion's website.