Materials and technology come together in new spaces and experiences. When looking to innovations in advanced construction, the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), together with students at the University of Stuttgart, have been creating a series of experimental pavilion for many years. These structures tell a story of computational design and computer-aided manufacturing processes for advanced construction.
The ICD’s goal is to prepare students for the continuing advancement of computational processes in architecture, as they merge the fields of design, engineering, planning and construction. The interrelation of such topics is exposed both technically and conceptually through parametric and algorithmic design strategies. This provides a platform for further exploration into the integrative use of computational processes in architectural design, with a particular focus on integrative methods for the generation, simulation and evaluation of comprehensive information-based and performance oriented models.
There are two primary research fields at the ICD: the theoretical and practical development of generative computational design processes, and the integral use of computer-controlled manufacturing processes with a particular focus on robotic fabrication. These topics integrate technological advancements in manufacturing for the production of performative material and building systems.
Likewise, the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart focuses its activity on the development of structures as the main aspect of architecture. ITKE’s goal is to push the boundaries of engineering design and material science towards new and non-standard applications in the field of architecture. The two main research interests of the Institute are geared towards material science for the production of high performance materials and their application, along with structural morphology and the study of innovative structural systems.
The following pavilions look at innovation in materials and advanced construction as fundamental aspects of the research activities at ITKE and ICD, and each are investigated through technological fabrication and development of full scale prototypes.
In summer 2011 the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), together with students at the University of Stuttgart have realized a temporary, bionic research pavilion made of wood at the intersection of teaching and research. The project explores the architectural transfer of biological principles of the sea urchin’s plate skeleton morphology by means of novel computer-based design and simulation methods, along with computer-controlled manufacturing methods for its building implementation. A particular innovation consists in the possibility of effectively extending the recognized bionic principles and related performance to a range of different geometries through computational processes, which is demonstrated by the fact that the complex morphology of the pavilion could be built exclusively with extremely thin sheets of plywood (6.5 mm).
In November 2012 the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart have completed a research pavilion that is entirely robotically fabricated from carbon and glass fibre composites. This interdisciplinary project, conducted by architectural and engineering researchers of both institutes together with students of the faculty and in collaboration with biologists of the University of Tübingen, investigates the possible interrelation between biomimetic design strategies and novel processes of robotic production. The research focused on the material and morphological principles of arthropods’ exoskeletons as a source of exploration for a new composite construction paradigm in architecture.
The Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) of the University of Stuttgart have constructed another bionic research pavilion. The project is part of a successful series of research pavilions which showcase the potential of novel design, simulation and fabrication processes in architecture. The project was planned and constructed within one and a half years by students and researchers within a multi-disciplinary team of biologists, paleontologists, architects and engineers.
The ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2014-15 demonstrates the architectural potential of a novel building method inspired by the underwater nest construction of the water spider. Through a novel robotic fabrication process an initially flexible pneumatic formwork is gradually stiffened by reinforcing it with carbon fibers from the inside. The resulting lightweight fiber composite shell forms a pavilion with unique architectural qualities, while at the same time being a highly material-efficient structure.
The Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) of the University of Stuttgart have completed a new research pavilion demonstrating robotic textile fabrication techniques for segmented timber shells. The pavilion is the first of its kind to employ industrial sewing of wood elements on an architectural scale. It is part of a successful series of research pavilions which showcase the potential of computational design, simulation and fabrication processes in architecture. The project was designed and realized by students and researchers within a multi-disciplinary team of architects, engineers, biologists, and palaeontologists.
With the exhibition "Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine", the Vitra Design Museum presents a major exhibition that examines the current boom in robotics. Outside the museum, the »Elytra Filament Pavilion« complements this exhibition. The bionic baldachin is an impressive example of the growing influence of robotics on architecture. Its individual modules were defined by an algorithm and then produced with the help of a robot, realised by a team from the University of Stuttgart. After its premiere at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, it is now on view on the Vitra Campus.
The Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart have completed a new research pavilion exploring building-scale fabrication of glass and carbon fibre-reinforced composites. The novel process is based on the unique affordances and characteristics of fibre construction. Because these materials are lightweight and have high tensile strength, a radically different approach to fabrication becomes possible, which combines low-payload yet long-range machines, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), with strong, precise, yet limited reach, industrial robots. This collaborative concept enables a scalable fabrication setup for long span fibre composite construction.
Embedded in the wavelike landscape of the Bundesgartenschau grounds, the BUGA Fibre Pavilion offers visitors an astounding architectural experience and a glimpse of future construction. It builds on many years of biomimetic research in architecture at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart. The pavilion demonstrates how combining cutting-edge computational technologies with constructional principles found in nature enables the development of truly novel and genuinely digital building system. The pavilion’s load-bearing structure is robotically produced from advanced fiber composites only.
The Urbach Tower is a unique wood structure. The design of the tower emerges from a new self-shaping process of the curved wood components. This pioneering development constitutes a paradigm shift in timber manufacturing from elaborate and energy-intensive mechanical forming processes that require heavy machinery to a process where the material shapes entirely by itself. This shape change is only driven by the wood’s characteristic shrinking during a decrease of moisture content. Components for the 14 m tall tower are designed and manufactured in a flat state and transform autonomously into the final predicted curved shapes during the industry-standard technical drying. This opens up new and unexpected architectural possibilities for wood structures, using a sustainable, renewable, and locally sourced building material.