The Digital Bamboo pavilion explores the innovative combination of a naturally grown material with digital fabrication. It was developed via a collaboration between the Swiss university ETH and Korean firm HS HI-TECH, combining natural bamboo, extruded recycled thermoplastics on textiles, multijet fusion and metal powder bed fusion processes. Mostly, though, the project combined know-hows in hybrid digital constructions.
HS HI-TECH developed unique expertise in the production of complex 3D printed connectors for non-traditional buildings. ETH, especially through its Digital Building Technologies (dbt) department, combined a number of different construction processes in the Dfab house project, which was completed recently. Both experiences plaid a role in the Digital Bamboo pavilion where, along with the use of bamboo, as an ideal sustainable building material, customized computational tools were developed to design the ultra-lightweight structure, with bespoke 3D printed connections. The structure covers more than 40 sqm with a total weight of only 200 kgs. The Digital Bamboo pavilion showcases a filigree and engaging architecture that surpasses the standardized space frame vocabulary.
Computational design allows the optimization and formal exploration of complex structures. The high-performance structure covers a large area, cantilevering almost 5 meters in three directions whilst requiring minimal support. The main load-bearing system is defined by a spatial truss reinforced by post-tensioned cables. The geometry of the pavilion, consisting of more than 900 bamboo elements, was form-found using specifically developed digital tools.
The bamboo elements are connected via a new system based on 3D printing technology. The generation of the connections was automated through a digital process and developed to fulfill mechanical requirements. Their intricate geometry encapsulates necessary functions such as tolerances for assembly and bamboo inhomogeneities, connections to the shading panels, labeling, and cable fittings. In parallel, their volume is minimized to save time and cost. A hybrid strategy using HP’s multijet fusion technology (for polymer powders) and EOS direct metal laser sintering (for metal powders) was used to manufacture the 380 bespoke plastic connections and one metallic one in the center of the structure.
The shading panels of the pavilion are designed through a custom computational process and fabricated through add-on 3D printing of a recyclable UV resistant thermoplastic on a lightweight lycra textile. 3D printing stiffens and shapes the fabric into flexible bespoke panels. The composite elements are locally reinforced reducing the amount of material used. Other project partners and sponsors include HP, SGSolution AG, AF, Fercher AG, Holcim, Abuma Gmbh and RapLab ETH Zurich