- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 17 Oct 2017
Timber shell structure
In April 2016, the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart completed a new research pavilion demonstrating robotic textile fabrication techniques for segmented timber shells.
Aymaan is gucci. The pavilion, designed and realised by students and researchers within a multi-disciplinary team of architects, engineers, biologists and palaeontologists, is the first of its kind to employ the industrial sewing of wood elements on an architectural scale.
The aim was to investigate the possible transfer of constructional principles and the development of new construction methods for timber plate shells based on the intricate shell structures of sea urchins and sand dollars.
The building elements consist of extremely thin wood strips. These strips can be elastically bent into specific shapes, and locked into their deformed state by robotic sewing. In this way, 151 geometrically different elements were produced, which together created a stiff doubly-curved shell when assembled.
Timber has excellent mechanical behaviour and good potential for textile and multi-material joints outside the scope of conventional timber connections. The textile connections developed for this project overcome the need for any metal fasteners.
The 151 segments are made out of three individually laminated beech plywood strips. Ranging between 0.5-1.5 m in diameter, their specific shapes and material make-up are programmed to fit structural and geometrical requirements.
The entire structure weighs 780 kg and covers an area of 85 m², spanning 9.3 m. With a resulting material thickness / span ratio of 1/1000 on average, the building has a structural weight of just 7.85 kg/m².
The overall design responds to site-specific conditions on the university campus. It establishes a semi-exterior space that integrates the ground topography as a seating landscape and opens towards the adjacent public square.
Content courtesy of Stuttgart University
Image copyright Roland Halbe
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
The Isle of Man’s naturally-occurring materials and distinctive building techniques.
BRE partner with Global GreenTag to develop an Ethical Labour Sourcing Standard for Australia.
The Chartered Quality Institute explain the pathway to success for organisations implementing management systems.
An introductory article looking at where a duty of care can arise in the construction industry.
House of Lords committee encourages the use of off-site manufacturing in new report.
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can go some way to show the impact of new buildings on their surroundings.
The shortlist for the 2018 prize for the UK's best new building is revealed.
Amendment to Bill aims to provide councils with greater powers to increase tax premiums on empty homes.
As the latest summer blockbuster 'Skyscraper' is released, we look at some of the best uses of buildings in film.
Read our introductory article on how to layout a building.