RCD’s work on the intelligent modelling of voids in the stems and canopies of the Oxford Brookes School of Architecture Rain Pavilion has been accepted as a paper to the eCAADe 2014 conference in November. The paper Populating surfaces with holes using particle repulsion based on scalar fields will be presented at the annual gathering at the University of Northumbria and contributes to the overall theme of fusion; data integration at its best.
Details of the conference can be found here
The 2014 EcoBuild exhibition at London’s Excel centre opened this week and an egg-shaped plywood pavilion designed for OnGreening’s stand at the event is showcasing the work of Ramboll Computational Design (RCD).
OnGreening is a new web-based platform devoted to the research and profiling of green building technologies. The organisation required a pavilion and lecture theatre that would make them stand out from the crowd at the world’s largest event for sustainable design at the ExCel centre in London.
The look of the structure is intended to echo Ongreening’s goal of capturing and filtering the world’s knowledge of green data. The pavilion has already attracted a lot of attention.
The pavilion’s egg-like geometry was generated using form-finding techniques pioneered on previous RCD projects. The structure itself is unique in that it uses thin 6.5mm birch plywood timber laths which are bent into shape, creating a so-called ‘bending active’ structure which is incredibly stiff and acts like a monocoque, enabling the shell to carry most of the stresses.
The timber laths are aligned along geodesic lines between pre-seeded generation points set out using a parametric model. The primary geodesic members are restrained by secondary laths of the same narrow and thin profile of plywood with a simple bolted connection. This method allowed the use of straight and short length pieces of timber, making it more practical to purchase and build compared with other similar looking structures.
Further details about OnGreening and their work are available on their website.
RCD have collaborated with the staff and students of the Architecture and Fine Arts departments at Oxford Brookes University on a striking new urban intervention/sculptural pavilion at the entrance of the new Abercrombie building. The structure compromises 20 extremely tall and slender steel ‘trees’ that support a thin folded steel plate ‘leaf’ or canopy. The overall impression is that of a wooded glade where light is filtered through varying diameter circular voids in the canopies and the stems bathing the visitors to the installation in a dappled light. RCD were an integral part of the conceptual design process following the initial student competition.
The extreme slenderness of the stems (only 89mm diameter and 6000mm tall) required extensive input from Ramboll’s fluid dynamics team in Copenhagen and fatigue analysis by our Advanced Engineering team in Southampton to model the complex wind interactions in order to prevent dynamic failure and to keep the structure as slim as possible. The canopies are 2500mm at their widest but only need very thin steel plate (2mm) because of the inherent stiffness provided by folds and creases in the form.
We developed routines to allow the circular voids to intelligently self organize on the surface of the stems and canopies in relation to the level of stress. High stress in a particular area meant that voids were fewer in number. Dampening factors were built into the initial coding to ensure that the overall impression of the holes was a gradual fading rather than unsightly bunching. The work will be extended to include our work on integrating a lightweight finite element solver within the automatic void generation and movement process in order to give more control and instant feedback on structural performance. A technical paper will be presented at a future paper conference.
The KREOD Pavilion has secured a place on the 2013 Structural Awards shortlist. The Structural Awards are held annually by the IStructE to celebrate international excellence in structural engineering. KREOD has been shortlisted for the Small Projects award. The full shortlist can be found on the Structural Awards website.
Ramboll engineers have conceived the Fitzrovia Chalkboard for the Great Titchfield Street Festival as part of London Festival of Architecture 2013. One of a number of events planned for the month long festival, the inaugural street project will promote positive change in the area, transforming Great Titchfield Street – from Mortimer Street up to Langham and Foley Street – into a pedestrianised haven for the day.
Fitzrovia Chalkboard is a temporary installation that creates a single point of display for collective messages in the local community – a structure that is a massive writing surface for all to contribute. It is inspired by how local, independent businesses rely on the traditional chalkboard as a means to advertise and mark their place on the street, in a time when technology offers many alternatives. Fitzrovia Chalkboard is designed using such recent advances and the public are invited inside the structure to view its innovative construction.
Inspired by Ramboll’s recent Trada Pavillion, the structure comprises of 47 birch plywood panels joined together by steel hinges. It is designed using the Tangent Plane Intersection (TPI) methods developed by Ramboll Computational Design to break down any double curved form into flat planar elements. Exact cutting patterns for digital fabrication are then automatically generated from the TPI mesh. All panels are numbered sequentially and this approach ensures that all panels fit together to create the form in a quick assembly process.
RCD collaborated with Architects and light installation artists Cinemod on the design for the RIBA organised Radio 4 Listening Pod competition, a brief to create a portable and memorable looking recording studio.
Christened the Geode, the pod was inspired by natural mineral formation and by the TPI mesh surface techniques developed by us on the Trada Pavilion. The TPI mesh enabled the structure to be broken down into small, light and easily transportable plywood and acoustic foam components which could then be slotted together on site by hand. Our entry was not shortlisted but did us give a valuable opportunity to develop the planar intersection modelling techniques further, to build on our knowledge of digital fabrication and to explore new ideas with creative partners.
In this unique project the client, digital film distributor Arts Alliance, wanted a lightweight, easily transportable venue to house its new performance of ID: Identity of the Soul on a worldwide tour. The brief required a structure that would meet the technical requirements for video projection and surround sound during live performances, as well as accommodating up to 3,500 people without impeding views of the stage. The structure had to be capable of being erected within two weeks and when demounted it had to fit inside a reasonable number of shipping containers for transportation across the world. It also had to be of the highest architectural quality.
Oslo-based practice, Various Architects proposed a dynamic oval form within an inflatable hexagonal PVC outer skin and drum-like fabric roof. Together with specialist contractor ESS, we developed a structural concept that has met the challenge.
After evaluating a number of different structural options an arrangement of radiating spokes, akin to the wheel of a bicycle, formed by tension cables running between inner and outer steel ring beams supported on steel lattice columns was chosen. The resulting structure is ultra-light, easily transportable and quick to assemble, whilst providing a large, clear space for the theatre area.
The exterior skin is self-supporting and consists of a web of inflatable fabric tubes coated in PVC, with translucent inflatable pillows as infill. To help generate the hexagonal pattern of the pneumatic skin, Generative Components software was used to parametrically control the size and scale of the hexagonal tessellations.
The Arts Alliance theatre is believed to be the largest mobile entertainment venue in the world measuring 90m by 40m on plan and in 2008 won the Spark Award.
Both the Trada and KREOD pavilions have been shortlisted for the Surface Design awards in the temporary structures category. The awards are announced on the 7th February 2013. Full details can be found here
A full size trial erection of one of the plywood timber legs of the Trada Expo pavilion will be exhibited at the Prototyping Architecture Exhibition in Nottingham starting 17th October.
The trial was undertaken to test the stiffness of the reciprocal support panels, the ease of erection, quality of finish and the effect of adding edge stiffeners upon the overall performance of the structure under accidental load. It proved an extremely useful exercise, validating the time and effort expended in ordering and building the test leg. It will be accompanied in the exhibition by a 1:10 scale model of the pavilion, built to assess the potential modes of failure.
Ramboll’s Trada Pavilion, a plywood structure inspired by the efficient curved forms of Frei Otto and Heinz Isler, was unveiled to the public for the first time this week at the Timber Expo 2012. The exhibition is the premier show in the UK for all those involved in the timber sector.
Trada commissioned Ramboll’s computational design team to design the timber pavilion, which was the focal point of the Timber Expo 2012 stand and one of the biggest draws at the exhibition. After this exhibition, the sculpture will showcased again on TRADA’s stand at the 2013 Ecobuild exhibition.
The team set themselves the challenge of creating a planar three-valent mesh approach for the double curved surface, rather than the conventional triangular mesh. A hexagonal mesh has the advantage of fewer connections and greater structural efficiency, but requires coding from scratch and a great deal of research. The final design utilizes techniques from the computer game industry coupled with engineering intuition.
Based on the team’s previous research into funicular form finding, the design uses weak springs to automatically generate a zero bending moment surface, enveloping a large trade stand and allowing the public to circulate underneath. It uses a mesh of thin plywood plates joined via simple expressed hinged pin connections. The structure was modelled with the extensive use of generative 3D systems with the output linked to a CNC router.
The KREOD (formerly known as Dpod) pavilion, located at the North Greenwich Olympic site, has now been completed – a significant event as it marks the culmination of a challenging design and fabrication process.
KREOD is a sustainable, portable, demountable and multi-functional indoor or outdoor exhibition space that will be installed in multiple locations within London. The project is led by Pavilion Architecture with its organic form inspired by nature, resembling a seed.
KREOD will sits on castors allowing the structure to be moved and rearranged into different forms and spaces to create a versatile event space with practical considerations for transportation, storage, disassembly and reassembly.
The structure, which has taken some time to come to fruition, is made up of three reciprocal timber gridshells that implement a number of geometrical optimisation and fabrication algorithms that have not been previously applied to a real structure. The form is a creative response to the need for a building that can be easily erected and subsequently demounted by hand, uses Kebony timber – a previously untried material – of a given size and limited thickness, and had to be delivered within a strict budget.
Using digital technology to its fullest, KREOD has been delivered in a collaborative manner with each member of the design team understanding the innovative work and challenges of the other contributors and designing accordingly.
KREOD will be launched and unveiled to the media today at its current site, adjacent to the North Greenwich Arena in East London, where it will remain for six weeks before being moved to its next site.
The D_pod pavilion took a step closer to reality recently with the completion of the joint testing at Cambridge University. The pavilion has changed a great deal since the first iteration back in 2010. The mesh is hexagonal rather than quadrilateral meaning a different approach has been needed to the engineering of the joints in order to keep them cheap, to use the material on hand and to give them a ‘furniture like’ appearance. RCD specified a reciprocal joint fixed with hidden bolts, which because the Kebony timber was being used for the first time in a load-bearing structure had to be validated by testing. After several tweaks to the detailing we are glad to report that the connections performed as hoped and it’s straight into construction in time for the opening at the Greenwich Olympic site in June.