Introduction: A In_Flexible Pavilion

Team: Kyle Johnson, David Campbell, Qingzhi Li, Yu Zheng

Instructors: Kyle Steinfeld, Simon Schleicher, Jonathan Bachrach, Luis Jaggy.

Step 1: Overview

The goal of the project was to explore active bending and kerfing of wood surfaces. We conceptualized the project in two parts: the seat, which is a heavy, movable base, connected by a light, actively bent canopy. The seat and canopy have the ability to work together to create an enclosed meeting space or shelter, offering some degree of privacy. By form finding in Kangaroo, we developed a method of exploring different global spatial configurations in the seat an canopy. We were able to begin measuring the degree of privacy offered by a fixed configuation of the seat and canopy by manipulating kerf patterns for the canopy. The design space for the exploration of the kerf patterns consisted of kerf spacing, kerf angles, and kerf location. Because the form finding component of the project is computational heavy, we found it difficult to apply a secondary process of optimization.

Step 2: Methods

The compiler for the In_Flexible Pavilion primarily involves three passes. Imbedded in the logic of the form finding component of the project is the geometric rationalization for the canopy. The bench, which is meant to undulate in plan, is reconfigured to make each seat developable. The joints and seams are simple, composed of a 3” lap joint between sheets of plywood. We used a mortise and tenon joint to inset the support rib for the seat. Currently the layout is not automated, but we were cognizant to design the flat pieces, joints and seams to eliminate as much waste as possible. Seat and canopies were designed in 16 or 24 inch increments.


Step 3: Materialization

After testing number of different species, we ultimately decided to use birch plywood for its high modulus of elasticity, or bending capability. 1/4” birch plywood, composed of 5 layers of solid veneer (3 parallel and 2 perpendicular to the direction of bending), proved to be light and flexible enough to for the canopy but heavy solid enough to be manipulated for the composition of the seat. In addition to the 1/4” plywood, the material system is composed of glued lap joints and metal screws that act as mechanical fasteners for additional stability.

Step 4: ​Realization

We relied primarily on the CNC router for the production of 2-dimensional cut pieces. Much of our investigation was governed by the limitations of the CNC router, directing us to make as many pieces the pavilion as two dimensional as possible. Because of the choice of material, however, we were able to use analog machinery to tweek, manipulate, and correct any errors that resulted when assembling and joining the two dimensional pieces.

Step 5: ​Future Work

With exponentially growing omputation tools and capabilities, future work could exploit and improved form finding and optimization work flow. As mentioned before, each of these processes is computationally heavy independently, and each must be extremeley oversimplified when use in conjunction with each other. There already exist an improved yet very fragile version of our form finding tool Kangaroo, so continuing to build upon the capabilities of this tool as it improves would be an obvious avenue for future work.