Stuttgart experimental architect Achim Menges has been commissioned to kickstart the V&A's first ever Engineering Season with a site specific, nature-inspired installation fabricated by robots. Complemented by Ove Arup's first major retrospective, Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design, the Elytra Filament Pavilion will be Menges' first public commission in the UK. He will work with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer to complete the project.
"Elytra Filament Pavilion will explore the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making," says the V&A. "Inspired by a lightweight construction principle found in nature, the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the Pavilion will be an undulating canopy of tightly-woven carbon fibre cells created using a novel robotic production process."
"The Pavilion will grow over the course of the V&A Engineering Season in response to data on structural behaviour and patterns of inhabitation of the Garden that will be captured by real-time sensors in its canopy fibers. At select moments, visitors will have the opportunity to witness the Pavilion’s construction live throughout the Season as new cells are fabricated in-situ by a Kuka robot. Menges’ and Knippers’ institutes at Stuttgart University are pioneering the integration of biomimicry, robotic fabrication and new materials research in architecture and have recently completed several innovative projects in Germany."
“Remember the impact that the first industrial revolution here in England had on architecture, as strikingly expressed in the Victorian Greenhouse?," asks Menges. "With Elytra Filament Pavilion, we aim to offer a glimpse of the transformative power of the fourth industrial revolution currently underway, and the way it again challenges established modes of design, engineering and making. Built entirely from robotically produced fibrous systems, the Pavilion will intensify the visitor’s experience of the V&A’s Garden by providing a differentiated and evolving space. Its intricate, filament canopy is at the same time architectural envelope, load-bearing structure and environmental filter, which will extend and transform over time.”
#EngineeringTheWorld will go on from May 18 through November 2016. The Elytra Filament Pavilion will be freely on view in the John Madejski Garden throughout the program.