Students and researchers at the University of Stuttgart built the 2015 ICD Aggregate Pavilion using 30,000 spiky components and a robot. The 2018 project is taller and bigger, three meters tall and seven long, with two interconnecting vaults forming a fully enclosed space inside. The students used over 120,000 recycled plastic spiked stars that create a self-supporting structure bonded only by friction.
The project aims to demonstrate the construction potential of large particles that can be distributed like a liquid, but form the self-supporting structures of a solid without the need for any binding material. Injection moulded recycled plastic was used to form the 120,000 hexapods and dekapods, which can be poured like concrete to rapidly interlock and form load-bearing shapes. To construct the pavilion 725 inflatable yellow spheres were used as formwork, onto which the spiked particles were poured. After the form was created the balloons were deflated and removed. The rectilinear shape has a cave-like interior with a triangular archway that can accommodate several visitors.
A custom-built, cable-driven parallel robot was fixed to the walls and beams of the space. It moved along the cables and deposited the particles to the exact point selected by the modelling system and deposited them. The robot was controlled by an interface that uses a parametric modelling environment, and the design and construction process used an image-segregation algorithm to check the structure’s geometric accuracy. Because no external bonding materials or process is required, the pavilion can be dismantled and the pieces used to create entirely different configurations. Combining structures from nature with the latest technology is an important part of the research done at the University of Stuttgart.
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