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This Giant Wooden Pavilion Was Built Entirely By Robots

The Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall in Stuttgart is made up of robotically prefabricated beech plywood plates.

Emma Hutchings

The Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall is a peanut-shaped pavilion conceived at the University of Stuttgart as part of the ‘Robotics in Timber Construction’ research project. Constructed entirely by a robotic prefab building system, it showcases the current developments and innovations in computational design and robotic fabrication for lightweight timber construction.

Funded by the European Union and the state of Baden-Württemberg, the dome-shaped building with its convex polygonal plates is both material and energy-efficient. It is the first to have its primary structure entirely made of robotically prefabricated beech plywood plates. 243 geometrically varying plates were created over the course of three weeks, along with the digital prefabrication of the insulation, waterproofing and cladding.

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One of the most important challenges and innovations was the robotic fabrication of the 7,600 individual finger joints, which have interlocking connections to ensure the building’s structural stability. The structural loads that occur around the plate’s edges are transferred efficiently by these finger joints. This new kind of timber construction allowed the building to be made of plywood plates that were only 50mm thick. Almost all of the off-cuts produced during fabrication was re-used as parquet flooring.

The development of the Exhibition Hall’s complex plate structure was made possible through advanced computational design and simulation methods. These allow the generation, simulation and optimization of biomimetic construction principles in architecture. Rather than drawing each plate manually, the plate’s design space was incorporated into a simulation and optimization process for automated form-finding.

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The pavilion was developed at the Institute for Computational Design, the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design, and the Institute of Engineering Geodesy, and it was realized in collaboration with Müllerblaustein Holzbau GmbH. After the robotic fabrication of the primary structure and the digital prefabrication of all other building layers, it took just four week to set up on site.

This newly developed timber construction offers innovative architectural possibilities and is highly resource efficient, with the load bearing plate structure being just 50mm thin.

University of Stuttgart

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