students at ETH zurich have used innovative technology to create an extremely lightweight pavilion using bamboo. the project demonstrates the possibilities of digital fabrication combined with natural construction materials such as bamboo — a rapidly renewable and high-​quality raw material. bamboo can be compared with hardwood species, but due to its hollow core, is extremely light-​weight and elastic. it is for this reason that bamboo has been used for centuries in earthquake-​prone areas of asia.

image © ETH zurich / benjamin dillenburger | video courtesy of digital building technologies

 

 

visually reminiscent of the arch of a gothic cathedral, but based on state-​of-the-art technology, the digital bamboo pavilion was designed and built by ETH zurich students of the MAS in architecture and digital fabrication (masdfab). the students used bamboo to create a pavilion weighing just 200 kilograms (440 lbs). spreading in three directions to cover a total area of more than 40 square meters (430 square feet), its minimal supports contribute to the ethereal nature of the structure. this design-​to-fabrication process depends on digital technologies, using purpose-​made digital design tools to generate this ultralight yet complex structure.

ETH zurich bamboo pavilion
image © ETH zurich / matthias leschok

 

 

more than 900 bamboo poles have been connected through digitally designed joints and manufactured with sub-​millimeter accuracy in high-​strength nylon and stainless-​steel using 3D printing technologies. digital fabrication enables all parts to be generated automatically and developed to meet all mechanical requirements. this included not only the complex geometry and structural specifications for each joint, but also the tolerances required for the non-​standard assembly of this natural material. added to these connections are hinge plates, cables, and anchors — resulting in a total of 379 connections and a very large number of small parts.

ETH zurich bamboo pavilion
image © ETH zurich / marirena kladeftira

 

 

the five-​meter-high (16 ft) pavilion creates protective shade with precise and detailed textile panels that extend the intrinsic pattern of the structural elements. with this in mind, the students designed elements to be 3D printed using a recyclable, UV-​resistant, and malleable plastic onto a lightweight lycra textile. 3D printing locally reinforces the base material, transforming it into bespoke resistant and flexible shading panels.

ETH zurich bamboo pavilion
image © ETH zurich / marirena kladeftira

 

 

‘the construction system developed for this project aims to reduce the logistical effort in construction, demonstrating how advantages of digital fabrication contribute to a more sustainable building culture,’ explains marirena kladeftira, doctoral student at the chair of digital building technologies, who is researching the potential of 3D-​printed connections for innovative and sustainable space frame structures for architecture.

students at ETH zurich use digital fabrication methods to build bamboo pavilion
image © ETH zurich / andrei jipa

 

 

the team behind the project says that this approach could be used wherever bamboo is available and produced in a cost-​effective manner. furthermore, the design-​to-construction process developed for the bamboo pavilion could even be applied to other materials. thanks to the modular design, the structure can be assembled and disassembled extremely quickly.

students at ETH zurich use digital fabrication methods to build bamboo pavilion
image © ETH zurich / andrei jipa

 

 

the digital bamboo pavilion was assembled on-​site at the zurich architecture centre (ZAZ) in just 48 hours in summer 2020, before being disassembled in the same short time. though the project is no longer on exhibit at the ZAZ, the team hopes that it may soon go on tour including a prolonged stop at the ECC exhibition in venice, in marinaressa gardens from may to october 2021.

students at ETH zurich use digital fabrication methods to build bamboo pavilion
image © ETH zurich / dinorah martinez schulte

students at ETH zurich use digital fabrication methods to build bamboo pavilion
image © ETH zurich / marirena kladeftira

 

 

project info:

 

name: digital bamboo
teaching team: marirena kladeftira (project lead), matthias leschok, eleni skevaki (chair of digital building technologies, ETH zurich), davide tanadini (chair of structural design, ETH zurich), yael ifrah (MAS ETH DFAB coordination, chair of digital building technologies)
support structural design: dr. ole ohlbrock, dr. pierluigi d’acunto (chair of structural design, ETH zurich)
design development MAS ETH DFAB 19-20 students: maria pia assaf, jomana baddad, frederic brisson, yu-hung chiu, rémy clemente, ioulios georgiou, mahiro goto, anton johansson, laszlo mangliar, dinorah martinez schulte, edurne morales zuniga, fatemeh salehi amiri, emmanuelle sallin, indra santosa, eliott sounigo, chanon techathuvanun, ping-hsun tsai
research collaboration partner on AM for bespoke joints: HS HI-TECH, seoul, south korea
dr. seungkyu yoo (CTO), yena jung (project lead), hyunsoo park, sangjae park, seunghyun baek, heesang jeong, hoyeon lee, eungseo kim, yonghee jeong, jonghak park, hyowon jung, youngmin joo, younhyun kim (vice president), ino lee (chief executive officer)
supporting technicians: christian egli, tobias hartmann, michael lyrenmann, thomas posur, andrea perissinotto, andreas reusser
more info: ETH zurich website

philip stevens I designboom

feb 06, 2021

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