Design Brief: Gernot Riehter's project was selected for realization at an annual AIA call of entries that asked for interventions to bring to life the historic city of New Orleans. The project suggested a series of pavilions sited within usually hidden, often private courtyards. At night the pavilions would reactivate the cities‚ fabric by reversing it -- what was a private space during the day would become a public space for concerts, performances, and other events at night. The pavilions once injected into the city would be activated by the city‚s webpage that would announce different events at their locations. One of the pavilions was realized as part of Gernot Riether‚s Option III studio at the Georgia Institute of Technology and fabricated at the DFL. The project shows how plastic can be used to build a light weight, affordable and environmentally friendly pavilion of 200sf.
The pavilion is developed from 320 variations of a single cell. Each cell is generated from different sets of attributes and their information that are derived from the cell‚s unique position within the overall form, different architectural and structural requirements and unique site conditions. Scripting allowed for parametrically transforming each cell‚s geometry differently into seating, foundation, light fixtures, plant holders and rainwater collectors. The final overall form and spatial qualities of the pavilion emerged from networking the cells into a multifunctional building envelop.
Lightweight Structure: The cell‚s geometry allowed combining structure and envelope in a single material hybrid system. The edges of each cell were folded differently based on each cells location within the overall structure. This provided stiffness within the cell. When connected the edges of all cells form a complex geodesic system. To minimize the amount of material used for the envelope and to create a lightweight structure, the envelope generates wormholes that act brace- and column-like and increase the surface tension. The formation of wormholes within the surface allowed minimizing the weight of the structure to 120 kg.
Flexible Manufacturing System: The various triangular outlines of the individual modules were routed from PETG sheets. Each of the triangles was then thermoformed into a three dimensional shape. The parametric model that was entirely scripting allowed linking the project to fabrication parameters and a flexible manufacturing system. A flexible mold was developed that could produce different shapes from different triangles. The mold was constructed from a digitally fabricated kit of parts that combined three different thermoforming techniques: drape forming, vacuum forming and draping. The flexible mold that was developed proved to involve fewer parts and tooling than other molding techniques, which allowed to save material and for a cost and time effective production. It was also very precise, resulting in very small assembly tolerances. All cells were prefabricated and assembled into 6 larger components designed to stack and fit compactly into a small truck for transport.
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