Robot-built pavilion to be erected at V&A London

3 February 2016

A site specific installation inspired by nature and fabricated by robots will occupy the garden at the centre of the V&A museum in London this May. The pavilion, designed by architects Achim Menges and Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer, will be an undulating canopy of tightly woven carbon fibre cells created using a robotic production process. Elytra: Filament Pavilion will “explore the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making.”

The Pavilion will grow over the course of the V&A Engineering Season in response to data on structural behaviour and patterns of inhabitation of the Garden that will be captured by real- time sensors in its canopy fibres.“At select moments, visitors will have the opportunity to witness the Pavilion’s construction live throughout the Season as new cells are fabricated in- situ by a Kuka robot,” says the V&A. “Menges’ and Knippers’ institutes at Stuttgart University are pioneering the integration of biomimicry, robotic fabrication and new materials research in architecture and have recently completed several innovative projects in Germany.”

Achim Menges, said: “Remember the impact that the first industrial revolution here in England had on architecture, as strikingly expressed in the Victorian Greenhouse? With Elytra: Filament Pavilion, we aim to offer a glimpse of the transformative power of the fourth industrial revolution currently underway, and the way it again challenges established modes of design, engineering and making. Built entirely from robotically produced fibrous systems, the Pavilion will intensify the visitor’s experience of the V&A’s Garden by providing a differentiated and evolving space. Its intricate, filament canopy is at the same time architectural envelope, load- bearing structure and environmental filter, which will extend and transform over time.”

The installation forms part of the first ever engineering season at the museum that will run from the 18 May- 6 November. The museum will also host the first major retrospective of the influential engineer Ove Arup.


Elytra Filament Pavilion, render, V&A John Madejski Garden 2016 © ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart


Synchronized robots core-less filament winding © ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart

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Owen Pritchard

Owen joined It’s Nice That as Editor in November of 2015 leading and overseeing all editorial content across online, print and the events programme, before leaving in early 2018.

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