Category Archives: pavilion

Vaulted Cork Pavilion

Vaulted Cork Pavilion in Porto, Portugal, by Pedro de Azambuja Varela, Maria João de Oliveira and Emmanuel Novo, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Joao Morgado and the architects.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

The Vaulted Cork Pavilion was built for Amorim Isolamentos Lda., to demonstrate its cork building materials at Concreta 2013, a biennial building fair held at Exponor, Porto.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

This architecture and research project was developed by Pedro de Azambuja Varela, Maria João de Oliveira and Emmanuel Novo, while studying in the Digital Architecture Advanced Studies Course (CEAAD), a joint venture between ISCTE-IULisboa and FAUPorto. All the fabrication was carried out at VFABLAB-IUL, and the coordination was carried out by Professors Alexandra Paio and José Pedro Sousa.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

This construction started out as challenge to materialize concepts and investigation developed within CEAAD during 2012 and 2013, all related with expanded cork agglomerate. These concepts are: the possibility to span vaults with cork alone; a compound translucent cork material; and a system for radiation and acoustic optimization. All these concepts ought to be shown within the pavilion in a symbiotic relation formalized by the continuous and metamorphic shape.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Architectonic space lies within an interrelationship between inner and outer space, promoting dynamic fluxes and circulation all around the construction. The outside provides circulation and rest areas, where people can relax in benches or wavy forms. The inside is a tunnel like space that has a continuous bench and an exhibition space, where people can find shelter from the trade fair's harsh noise and lights. All this was formalized as a shape that grows from the floor creating a smooth transition between the floor and vaulted roof.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Cork characteristics were a main driving force in the space's conception. The floor and walls are smooth and soft, and the smell is very particular. Inside the space, one has the feeling of being inside another environment, such is the effect of changing light, sound, smell and touch. The grass on the exterior - showing the possibility of using cork on living roofs - creates a symbiosis of living plants and cork bark while responding to the client's wish of showing a construction system of cork insulated green roof.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

The construction approach for this project dealt mainly with time constraints. Following the research developed the year before the pavilion construction system would be that of a compression only vault. This means the supporting structure would be built out of blocks that should efficiently transmit the load forces downwards through a stereotomic fit. The apex of stereotomic thinking created such complex polysurfaced blocks that even a new science was born with it: Descriptive Geometry. These kinds of blocks were carved with a CNC milling machine, but their 3D nature makes the process very slow as it needs many passes. Straight down 2D cutting, creating silhouette type shapes, is much faster, as the drill may plunge down and carve most of the material in a few passes. This led to rethinking of the structure as a 2D process, leading to the design of arches that would be fixed together as in a barrel vault.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Although the parametric nature of this built form hints at its digital genesis, the first approaches were sketch driven. The project was developed with its group members separated by distance, relying in the digitized hand drawn sketches, online meetings and many different proposals. This is how the main hypotheses were laid out, which were to be translated into pure geometry language so that the computer would be able to calculate a final shape. The variables were created so that the various aspects of the pavilion would take shape: the sinuous curve which defines one arm of the catenary arches, the bulging longitudinal shape, the height of the exterior bench and its conformity with the sweeping vault curve. All these variables were put together as parameters of a complex algorithm that resolved all the geometry needed to draw the 120 individual cross-sections.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Once the shape was agreed upon, another algorithm was crafted to automatically create the geometry of the hundreds of unique blocks that were to be CNC cut at the VFABLAB. All the blocks were labeled with a meaningful system, easing the work of the Amorim team while assembling the various pieces. These were pre-mounted in chunks of three arches, so that final assembly in the trade fair would be easier and error-free. Its final assembly was a success; the cork blocks were very efficient as a stereotomic system. The acoustic cork was key in decorating the interior and translucent cork provided light in the interior and a glimpse of mystery from the outside, effectively working as stained glass windows.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Drawing courtesy of the architects

Drawing courtesy of the architects

Fire Shelter: 01

Fire Shelter: 01 in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Simon Hjermind Jensen, 2012.

The following text and images are courtesy of SHJWORKS/Simon Hjermind Jensen.

FIRE SHELTER: 01 is a personal project located at Sydhavnstippen in Copenhagen. The starting point for the design emerged from a fascination with the place. It’s a temporary project and a design experiment that wish to celebrate the place. The project has public access, and it establishes experiences of spatial and social character. In the creation of it nobody has been asked for advice, neither has it been possible for anyone to tell his or her opinion. It is simply thought of as a gift.

Sydhavnstippen is a 20-minutes bike ride from central Copenhagen. The area was landfilled with building materials between 1945 and 1973, and before that it was a seabed. Plants, bushes and trees have taken over the area since the landfill, and today it is a habitat for a variety of animals. Walking around Sydhavnstippen is just amazing. The “wild” appearance of the nature on top of the building materials, which are visible some places, makes you think of a “post-apocalyptic” nature. The often deserted area amplifies this.

The shelter takes inspiration from architecture of ethnic and nomadic people. The shelter consists of one shape stretching for the sky. It has one hole in the top and two openings at the bottom. Plywood and polycarbonate are the main materials, and all the different parts are fabricated using CNC technology. It is 4.7 meters tall (15-1/2 feet) and has a diameter at ground level at 3.8 meters (12-1/2 feet). The structural element of the shelter is the 2-9 mm thick walls. The walls consist of thin and bendable shells that are tightened together with bolts and a piece of 2 mm thick polycarbonate.

The bottom of the shelter is made of plywood and inside is a fireplace surrounded by a bench. The bench is filled with building materials found on the site. This ballast secures the shelter to the ground without any kind of digging for a foundation. The upper part of the shelter is in white transparent polycarbonate. The transparent ability allows daylight during the day, and after dusk the light from the fire will shine through the polycarbonate. This way the shelter brings back memories of old times lighthouses.

Besides being a design experiment, which tests the possibilities and structural solutions that digital fabrication is capable of giving, the shelter is greatly meant as a gift for the area and for those who wish to use it. It is about being in the company of good friends, in a fantastic place, around a fire during the dark time of the year. If bureaucracy had been taken into account, the project probably wouldn’t have happened. The wish to act independently was the desire to create a unique and specifical project without being subject to any kind of compromises. The project has occurred in the fascination of the area and in a wish to activate one of the potentials of this area.

Bamboo Courtyard Teahouse

Bamboo Courtyard Teahouse in Yangzhou, China, by HWCD, 2012.

The following text and images are courtesy HWCD.

Located in the ShiQiao garden in Yangzhou, a city to the northwest of Shanghai, there is a floating Bamboo Courtyard Teahouse designed by Chinese architect Sun Wei, partner of HWCD. As an international design practice, with offices in London and Barcelona, HWCD has been developing various projects, specializing in boutique hotels, residential, and mixed-use projects. Their projects emphasize the existing "worldwide interconnectedness" in the architecture and design spheres by bringing together a traditional Asian aesthetic and a modern design language.

The Bamboo Courtyard is an example of HWCD's design philosophy, embracing the traditional Chinese garden fundamentals while blending into the natural environment. The bamboo is arranged vertically and horizontally to produce "depth" and visual effects when walking around. Tall rows of bamboo sticks create corridors along the outdoor walkway and are organized in asymmetric fashion on the lake.

Traditionally, Yangzhou courtyards are formed with inward-facing pavilions, creating an internal landscape space. Drawing inspiration from this, the bamboo courtyard was designed from a basic square footprint, fragmented into small spaces to create an internal landscape area. Each of the spaces has views into the surrounding lake, allowing a panoramic view of the area.

From the exterior, the bamboo courtyard is a cubic form with a variation of solids and voids. The strong verticality becomes more apparent at night when the teahouse lights up to illuminate the surroundings. The simple form illustrates the congruent blending of architecture with nature. Moreover, the natural materials such as bamboo and bricks provide sustainable sensibilities. The pocket of voids improves natural ventilation within the bamboo courtyard, while the thick brick wall retains heat in winter, reducing the dependency of mechanical heating and cooling system.

Tea is one of China’s most precious culture heritages and has remained popular throughout thousands of years. It requires an unassuming setting in order to understand its lengthy process. The bamboo courtyard provides the adequate setting to a tea experience, emphasizing the underlying importance of design and architecture.

Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, by Studio Gang Architects, 2010.

On a recent trip to Chicago a good deal of my agenda revolved around the work of Studio Gang Architects. I visited their studio, got a tour of the Radisson Blu at Aqua Tower, and visited the exhibition Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects at the Art Institute of Chicago. Much of it is documented in the Insight feature at World-Architects, but here I wanted to delve into another one of their projects I visited, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Like many of Jeanne Gang's post-Aqua projects, the Nature Boardwalk has received a fair amount of press, but much of it centers on the open-air pavilion that sits on the east side of the pond. While I'm also guilty of honing in on the pavilion with my camera, here I'll discuss the larger plan for the pond as well as the design of the pavilion itself.

The name Nature Boardwalk should tip people that the project focuses on a linear path, one that follows the edge of the Lincoln Park Zoo's South Pond. The pond was created shortly after the zoo's founding around 1870, before which the land was a cemetery, as Lynn Becker describes. Over the years its hard, engineered edges and shallow bed contributed to the unhealthy nature of the oxygen-starved pond. Gang and her team of consultants, including landscape architect WRD Environmental, worked to transform the 14-acre landscape into "a native Midwestern, self-sustaining ecosystem, featuring an array of prairie plants and 100 new trees." The primary means to achieve this and increasing habitat for wildlife are via a "re-engineered pond with naturalized shorelines and depths that welcome wildlife." (Quotes from WRD website.)

Having lived in the area about 15 years ago, and not returning to Chicago since 2007, I was amazed by the change. Basically I did not recognize the South Pond. Its softened edges and snaking boardwalk completely changed the character of the place, making it resemble a piece of nature that predated Chicago's build-up rather than a human-made landscape. Walking the boardwalk is a great experience, as it zigs and zags among the plantings and sometimes juts out over the water. And the changes are not just visual, as the transformation of the pond has already increased the diversity of the place's wildlife, both for residents (fish, turtles) and migratory creatures (birds).

The pond has become a laboratory, a barrier-free zoo exhibit, and a classroom. The last is primarily served by the pavilion (technically, and unfortunately, the Peoples Gas Education Pavilion), which straddles the boardwalk on the east side of the pond. Gang was inspired by the form and related structural strength of milkweed pods. This inspiration can be found in the fiberglass domes that shield the 17-foot-high (at its peak) structure that is made from curved, laminated wood pieces bolted together. The alien presence sits on axis with the John Hancock building to the south, shielding the classes and others that use the space from the high summer sun. Openings at the base of the structure aid in natural ventilation across the space. The pavilion adds an exclamation point to the Nature Boardwalk, but more importantly it provides an excuse to stop for a while and take in the zoo's "return to nature."

Endesa Pavilion

Endesa Pavilion in Barcelona, Spain, by IaaC, 2011.

The following text and images are courtesy Institute for advanced architecture in Catalonia (IaaC).

Endesa Pavilion is a self-sufficient solar prototype installed at the Marina Dock, within the framework of the International BCN Smart City Congress. Over a period of one year it will be used as control room for monitoring and testing several projects related to intelligent power management.

The pavilion is actually the prototype of a multi-scale construction system—a façade composed by modular components, like solar brick, that respond to photovoltaic gaining, solar protection, insulation, ventilation, lighting...The same parametric logic adapts façade geometries to the specific environmental requirements for each point of the building. It is is a single component that integrates all levels of intelligence that the building needs.

From "form follows function" (classic XX century statement) to "form follows energy": The façade opens in reaction to the solar path—active and permeable to the south, closed and protective to the north. The behavior of this skin makes visible the environmental and climatic processes that surrounds the prototype. Higher overhangs allow more energy collection and greater protection against the incident radiation during summer.

Solar houses should be built with solar materials. The wood, grown with solar power, is used now to build a self-sufficient photovoltaic pavilion. The current digital fabrication techniques, and the last advances in energy management and distributed production, make technology closer to the user, open and participatory. The Endesa pavilion is an accessible device, technologically soft and easily understandable. Its construction, materials and energy, and its climatic behavior are transparent to the inhabitant.

Porsche Pavilion

Porsche Pavilion in Wolfsburg, Germany by HENN, 2012.

The Autostadt is a theme park in Wolfsburg, Germany, that is focused on "people, cars and what moves them." The mobility-themed park, which is laid out around an artificial lagoon, features pavilions for Audi, Lamborghini, Volkswagen (the park is basically a communications platform for VW and its various brands), and now Porsche, whose arcing structure designed by HENN Architekten recently opened. The pavilion is located in the lagoon's southeast corner, and the design takes many cues from this location.

By locating itself right on the lagoon, the pavilion blends architecture and landscape (HENN worked with WES, the landscape architects responsible for the entire Autostadt plan); it defines the water's edge through curving terraced seats that provide seating for visitors. The pavilion proper is halfway along this arcing plan that alludes to the curves of a highway. The dramatic soaring roof shelters part of the seating and extends over the water; it cantilevers a full 25 meters (82 feet).

From above and other parts of the Autostadt, it appears that the project is solely focused on defining outdoor spaces, both the lagoon and the seating. But the tiered seating and arcing roof work together to respectively build up and enclose the interior space, an organic space served by an elliptical ramp from above. The light and soaring character of the exterior is eschewed in favor of a dark space (hg merz architekten museumsgestalter and jangled nerves developed the exhibition and staging concept), where the cars can stand out.

What links the building and its client the most is the complex curvilinear forms realized through construction similar to the automotive industry. HENN describes the stainless steel shell as "similar to the monocoque construction technology used for lightweight structures in automotive and aerospace industries, the building envelope forms a spatial enclosure whilst at the same time acting as a load-bearing structure." The structure as skin is a smooth surface that recalls the aerodynamic form of cars. Unlike most cars that tend to look alike in their generic bodies, the Porsche Pavilion is as unique and distinctive as the namesake sports cars.

Viewing Tower

Viewing Tower in Reusel, the Netherlands by Ateliereen architecten, 2009.

Six asymmetrically stacked boxes define this viewing platform that marks the entrance to a recreational area near the small town of Reusel in the Netherlands. About 50 such spots are marked in the country, but this tower designed by Ateliereen architecten is probably the most eye-catching marker, and maybe the most diverse in terms of function. In addition to marking an area to explore on foot, by mountain bike, or by horse, the 25-meter-high (82 feet) tower incorporates climbing and rappelling.

While the tower is asymmetrical, the cantilevered boxes are organized around a simple stair. This vertical circulation acts as a core, like much bigger towers, to provide access to three of the six cubes; at the top people can enjoy expansive views of the surrounding landscape. Speaking of core, the stair is also the place where the primary vertical structure is located. Standard steel sections, all galvanized, are used for columns and beams, the latter cantilevered from this middle. Steel is also used for guardrails and the floors (pressed plates), but the rest of the tower is wood.

While the steel structure allows for the height, the slender form, and the cantilevered boxes, it is the wood that gives the tower its character. The architects sourced the wood from the surrounding production forest, covering the various boxes in logs, halved and stripped. According to the architects, in this regard the tower is "an addition to the site, but also a local product." The exposure and orientation of the logs are also important, reinforcing the way the boxes rotate as they rise. From the bottom, the first and fourth boxes are special: the former features whole logs cut and exposed in their section; the latter runs the cut logs vertically, as if to visually connect the bottom and top with an upward swoop.

Added to one side of the tower is the gear for climbing. In the realm of the wood-covered, steel-structured tower, the colorful protrusions common to most climbing walls are an alien presence. It seems like a missed opportunity to not develop a means for climbing with their palette, mainly using the logs as a means to grab and ascend the tower. Regardless, this intervention is not major, and giving the tower more function than just viewing is one of the most commendable aspects of the project.

Red Stair Amphitheatre

Red Stair Amphitheatre in Melbourne, Australia by Marcus O'Reilly Architects.

Rising from Queensbridge Square, a public space along the Southbank Promenade of the Yarra River in Melbourne, is a red stair that serves as a beacon, an amphitheater, and a place to sun, among many other purposes. Designed by Marcus O'Reilly Architects, the striking mass recalls numerous constructions, both ancient and contemporary: ziggurats with their steps and battered walls come to mind, as does the TKTS booth in Times Square in Manhattan. Whatever the associations, the color and form clearly indicate that the structure is meant to stand out in its location.

Strongly oriented to the northern sun (this is Australia, remember), one important purpose of the construction can actually be found on the south. There the caps Southbank Boulevard and frames an entrance to a below-grade parking garage. Therefore the red stair makes itself known to both pedestrians traversing the promenade and those driving within the Central Business District. The form transitions between these two sides by folding around towards the steps, as if to further embrace those sitting on the steps.

[The Red Stair] creates a sense of enclosure to the urban space effectively resulting in a modern Piazza. The iconic form and bold use of color helps signalize a truly successful urban space. -Marcus O'Reilly Architects

As an exclamation point in Queensbridge Square, it's easy to see the Red Stair as the place to meet people, like the red TKTS steps in Times Square or even the clock in Grand Central Terminal. This secondary function (secondary in that it is beyond eating, sitting, watching, or other activities that actually take place on the stairs) continues into the nighttime with the LED strip lights that are randomly inserted within the red plywood. The form of the amphitheater can be read with these lights. As well the depth of the mass is articulated through lights set into "carved" sections.

Marcus O'Reilly Architects also designed a vent sculpture (photo below right) for the other side of Queensbridge Square. Where the Red Stair is monumental, with joints that seem to mimic the blocks of old ziggurats, the vent sculpture resembles a garden folly. It is also built of wood, but it is left bare instead of being painted. As well the joints between boards are left open, so the construction glows from within. It serves to balance the space without competing for attention with the steps.

Jane’s Carousel

Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn, New York by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, 2011.

On September 16, 2011 Jane's Carousel officially opened in a small but prominent corner of Brooklyn Bridge Park between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel (the Pritzker Prize winner is also responsible for the earlier 40 Mercer Residences and 100 Eleventh Avenue, as well as for the MoMA Tower that is in planning), the project is named for artist Jane Walentas, who almost single-handedly brought the 1922 carousel from Ohio to Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood. Many people probably recall glancing inside a glass storefront on nearby Water Street, a way station of sorts for the carousel as it was restored and its future was planned. Its existence in a malleable glass box is the culmination of decades of Jane's work, care, and drive.

Of course it should be noted that Jane's husband, David Walentas, is a developer responsible for much of DUMBO's transformation from an industrial area to a gentrified one with shops, residences, offices, and now parks along the East River. His 1983 master plan for DUMBO included a carousel for the riverside park, and the following year the couple purchased the carousel in Youngstown, Ohio. In a sense DUMBO, Jane's Carousel, and Brooklyn Bridge Park are a synthesis of globalization and the loss of manufacturing in North America: The first and last are occupy former industrial buildings and land; the second arose from Youngstown's decline as a steel town, among other circumstances. This large-scale view probably won't impact one's experience of the place, but it is interesting to consider the project as part of global circumstances (we could also add on to it how Nouvel is a global "Starchitect" based in France but who probably spends more time in transit than his home city).

Jane's Carousel is a completely restored historic Carousel made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC #61) in 1922. ... It was the first Carousel to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. -janescarousel.com

The combination of a colorful carved-wood carousel and a glass pavilion with a reflective stainless steel ceiling may seem a bit odd at first, but in a number of ways it makes perfect sense. The enclosure puts the carousel on display; it allows riders to have views of the bridges, DUMBO, and Manhattan across the East River; it opens itself up via large glass doors on two sides to announce itself as open and allow breezes through; and of course it shelters without competing with the look of the carousel. And while it may appear to be just a dumb box, Nouvel's design is more nuanced than that monicker. It features butt-glazed glass on two sides, while the other two have the operable panels. In the middle of the ribbed stainless steel ceiling is a glass oculus that aligns with the carousel below; this opening brings light to the top of the carousel but also makes the space appear to extend upward.

Lastly, the project deserves to be discussed in terms of its location within DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The pavilion sits in Empire Fulton Ferry Park, a peninsula that is currently cut off from Brooklyn Bridge Plaza to the south, but which will connect the parks to the east and south in a chain over over 1.5 miles. Currently Jane's Carousel is best accessed from Dock Street to the south or from Main Street Park to the east. Whatever the approach, the pavilion's location gives it a prominence, aided by the way it is raised slightly from the surrounding boardwalk on a plinth. The epicenter of Brooklyn Bridge Park may be south of Brooklyn Bridge, but Jane's Carousel will help draw people to the northern end of the park, where the unique position between the bridges -- and the round and round of the carousel -- gives a unique vantage point on this place of transformation.

Pabellon en el Bosque

Pabellon en el Bosque in Valle de Bravo, Mexico by Parque Humano, 2011.

For many architects a pavilion is a dream commission. Approaching pure sculpture, the broad typology departs from the stringent functions that define buildings like houses, schools, offices, and the rest. To be sure a pavilion has a goal, a purpose of some sort, but it is rooted in the hazy area between idea and experience rather than meeting particular functional requirements. Jorge Covarrubias and Benjamín González Henze of Parque Humano, the architects of this Pavilion in the Woods, hit upon this condition when they describe their project as "an inducement to participate in specific acts of memory, contemplation, and philosophical speculation."

Sited in an opening on a large plot of land, this small (80sm / 860sf) pavilion is aligned with the path of an existing pine tree alley. A glass wall with sliding panels greets people approaching the pavilion. Solid side walls flare out to another glass wall that can slide open to bring the outdoors into the single room. While a small extension of the floor is found at the entrance, the larger side connects to a stone terrace with an outdoor tub. This overlooks a clearing in the trees, a distant vista that situates the house within a much larger landscape.

Perception has no time spam, there is no acknowledgment of temporality, the art experience is pure. The observing subject is conscious of being part of a present, palpable, located in a specific time and reality. -Parque Humano

Reading the architects' words, the meditative sense of being present is a fusion of architecture and nature, specifically via the framing of a specific view. The architects supply a malleable space (open or closed or somewhere in-between) that opens towards a vista which encompasses one's field of vision. At least this is one reading, but certain things complicate this, such as the reflective nature of the interior surfaces and the bend in the exterior walls and roof. The former could be such so that the awareness of oneself is heightened; perception of the horizon is accompanied by reflections off the floor, walls, and ceiling. A fire in the simple circular pit in the floor would also be cast upon these surfaces, potentially drawing the inhabitant into the flames by being surrounded by them. Whatever the intention, the green color of the interior surfaces nevertheless draws it closer to the surrounding landscape.

The bends in the exterior walls and roof, on the other hand, serve to create a sculptural presence irrespective of what is happening inside. Only the roof's kink is sensed in the pavilion, as the ceiling rises and falls. This results in a framed view that is lower than if the roof and ceiling continued on the upward trajectory from the entrance; this view stresses the horizontality of the horizon, as well as the green and brown landscape over the blue sky. The bend in each wall confuses the flaring of the plan and provides extra space for storage and other uses. It also continues the bend of the roof to create a faceted form clad in a single material. While the pavilion's architectural functions may be limited to keeping the occupants warm and dry (and maybe clean and fed depending on what fills the voids in the side walls), the relative freedom allows the architects to focus on the simple act of being and looking. They've created a small building for just that.