Engineering Headlines

Structural Engineer, Biologist and Architect made a roof

This wooden Pavilion fascinate our senses. Consists of book elements that are stitched with cords. He lets the Sun pass through and offers an unusual experience telling that buildings can be made with sewing technology. Roof has hole, but who cares?

The new research Pavilion of the Stuttgart University is a real eye-catcher. It consists of 151 different segments made of beech wood. He lets out the looks back, the Sun and creates a protective feeling of a cave at the same time.

Bionic model of the Stuttgart engineers.

Succeeded as relatively lightweight, and yet elastic stable form of roof. The entire daring structure weighs 780 kg, has a size of 11.5 x 9.5 m and covered an area of a total of 85 sqm.

The Pavilion was an Interior which picks up the topography of the place and opens towards the surrounding University buildings. The research Pavilion impressively demonstrates the interaction between material, form, space, structure and robot-controlled manufacturing.

The Sea-Urchin was a godfather for the Stuttgart-based research Pavilion

The Institute developed the research pavilion with its unusual production technique with design as outcome (ICD) and of support structures and structural design (ITKE) Stuttgart University. Engineers and architects have studied common velvet shells subspecies together with biologists from Tübingen University (TU).

The design of the Pavilion is based on an analysis of structure morphology of this sea dweller by means of close-up shots with the scanning electron microscope. With these images, the Stuttgart researchers realized that the connections between the individual plate elements of sea urchin shell consist not only from the familiar finger jointing, but also of additional fiber connections.

Photo: Stuttgart University
Photo: Stuttgart University

Three thin veneer strips are laminated to plywood

This elastic connections of relatively rigid plates to ensure the durability of shell sand dollar during growth. In addition, the performance of the shell is based on the differentiation of material properties within a structure that consists of two layers.

On basis of this Bionic insights, a construction system was developed, which recreates the forms as a two-layer structure, caused by the secondary growth at the sand dollar. A powerful and complex shaped shell structure originated from simple, flat strips of veneer.

Photo: Stuttgart University
Photo: Stuttgart University

Each three of thin strips of veneer beech laminated to flat, custom-made 3 to 5 mm thick plywood. These segments are adapted each to the local requirements of static and geometric in form and fiber orientation. This enables elastic to the first tier components. A sexy segment geometry with non-uniform curvature is created solely by the laminate construction.

This geometry is then held an industrial sewing machine in the form through the sewing of each item. Held and each item was by a KUKA robot. The two-layer segments mostly removing external loads through normal and shear forces at the Board level. The existing train forces between the individual segments are transmitted via Kevlar Structure, with which the segments build have been connected.

Industrial robot synchronized work-piece and machine

Usually, the connections between the wood segments are glued for spatial structures of thin veneer wood. This is useful for simple construction geometry. In the bent State, the required performance at operating pressures can be achieved only by using expensive molds. Therefore, the Stuttgart engineers have sewn the individually bent plywood with an industrial sewing machine.

Photo: Stuttgart University
Photo: Stuttgart University

An industrial robot with fixed the segments to sewn first in the desired geometric configuration. Then he led the bent Strip through the machine and connected them together.

A specially programmed software took over the robots and machine control. Through this interface, the robot always knows the status of the sewing machine, to synchronize the different movements as well as the current position of the work-piece.

Ceiling structure modeled on bone structure.

Architect Hans-Dieter Sherry form a bond with the nature in 1968. His famous “bone blanket” mimics the structure of bones. Also they are easy, light and very stable.