masterstudio SS13 / institute for structural design


the image shows our proposed design for the pavillon in front of the serpentine gallery

I did this project together with Gabriel Tschinkel and Peter Hörzenauer. By the way a big thanx goes out to DI Felix Raspall, DI Felix Amtsberg (ITE), Dr. -Ing. Milos Dimcic from and Stefan PETERS, Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. who helped us a lot with scripting and translate this thing to the robot. You can follow the link to see the final video of the scaled robotic fabrication of one of our panels.

The Serpentine Gallery is an art gallery in Kensington Gardens, Hyde
Park, central London (UK). It focuses on modern and contemporary art.

The exhibitions, architecture, education and public programmes attract
approximately 750,000 visitors a year. The Serpentine Gallery annually
commissions international architects of worldwide acclaim to design a
pavilion on the gallery’s lawn that provides a unique showcase for contemporary
architectural practice. We designed a fictional pavilion for the site.

The Pavilion spans a length of 30m and consists of 164 facsimile, prefabricated,
double curved elements, which are assembled on site.
The panels are made out of UHPC, Ultra High Performance Concrete,
due to its characteristics gives the opportunity to create a very thin shell

The architectonic design process refers to one of the most signifi cant
historic architectural elements to bridge over very large span distances,
a cupola. Another main thought for the formfi nding is to reveal a connection
between the two extremes of parameterisation.
On the one hand the regularities, which can be found in nature, explained
through the numbers of Fibonacci, on the other the parameterisation
of data which is required for computer aided manufacturing.

The bearing positions of the pavilion are defi ned by the fi rst four numbers
of Fibonacci (1-1-2-3). A circle gets divided into seven equal segments
and gets connected in order of the Fibonacci numbers.
The length of each of the bearings is dependent on the length of the
following segment, always 1/5 of it.
To get a roofed entrance situation as well as getting some openings
each segment is curved to the inside and to the outside. (8-8-13-21).

The fl oor in the inside of the Pavilion, which is casted on site, has a little
negative curvature and is made out of concrete as well, the lowest point
is 20cm beneath the ground level, and contrasts the dome to its opposite.
The Area of the Pavilion seperates itself from the surrounding and
will be entered consciously.
A round shaped concrete element which interacts with the Teahouse
shows the strong connection between the Pavilion and the Teahouse.

Predefi ning functions within the Dome was avoided. This is becoming
particularly important at present when individuality and non uniformity
thinking gets a much higher value, than this was the case in the past.
The visitor is free from economic constraints, the Pavilion should develop
one’s own interpretations of space and space use.

The Panelisation should refer to the building itself.
By analyzing the structure in a fi nite element programme, under consideration
of di erent forces, a pattern was developed, which was the
basic for the panelisation.
On the basis of the abstraction of this pattern interstices,
forces and force fl ow become readable and visible for the spectator.
Main power lines are specially highlighted by putting fi ber pins next to
them in the concrete.
This is used to make the normally invisible forces appear on the surface.
Everybody can perceive the forces optically.
The challenge in structural design was, that the Dome was weakened
at it’s weakest point, by the panels. The result is a very exciting statical
The perception of the with fiber pins equipped forcelines is not given
during daytime from the outside but from the inside.
In the nighttime this e ect changes, when there is an event and light in
the pavilion it’s visibly obvious for the spectator that there is something
going on in the dome.


To produce the single elements roboters in connection with the programms
Rhino, Grasshopper/ HAL were used.
Due to the form of a sphere only one double curved formwork out of a
high-quality material is required.
In our scale model this was a robotic milled XPS mold, because of limitation
in money and production time.
But in reality and bigscale thinking this could be a steel mold. On this
mold a layer of 5cm thick clay is placed.


A roboter equipped with a cutting tool cuts out the form of the panel.
The cutting tool is oriented to the moldface normal, which is a very important
to ensure the fi tting of the panels.
Afterwards the inner part of the clay gets removed, the outer part of the
clay is part of the lateral formwork.


If there are emphasised edges of panels, a robot is used as well to place
the fiber rods. A so called Pick & Place method is used for this process.
The Robot has the Gripper tool and places the pins also normal to the
moldfaces surface.
In Reality this could work as well but instead of plexi pins metalic pipes
are used. They are placed on the moldface exact the same way, but the
moldface is magnetic and keeps them in place after robotic positioning.


For the third step, the exact placing of the screw connection, a roboter
is used as well. This process was not simulated in model reality because
of it’s complexity.



Finally an also double curved high-quality formwork is placed on the
The filling process starts right after. The concrete should be injected
from the lowest part of the form and the air will be exhausted through
different holes on the top of the moldface. After concreting the clay can
be removed. Only the final Panel remains.
To connect the single panels a screwing connection similar to the Lamello
Invis Mx system is used, a connection where no space for the tool
is required, because of the magnetic transmission of forces. This thing
can be dismounted as well. Between the single elements a thin
elastomeric element is placed, on the one hand to have a little tolerance
when assembling the panels, on the other hand to have a closed cupola.


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