Wednesday 20 December 2023

Carbon in construction & architecture


Cutting-edge computational technologies combined with constructional principles found in nature have enabled the development of a digital building system. The pavilion’s loadbearing structure is robotically produced from advanced fibre composites only. The resulting building is exceptionally lightweight and provides a distinctive spatial experience.

In biology most loadbearing structures are fibre composites, made from fibres such as cellulose, chitin or collagen, and a matrix material that supports them and maintains their relative position. The performance and resource efficiency of biological structures stems from these fibrous systems. Their organisation, directionality and density is finely tuned and locally varied, in order to ensure that material is only placed where it is required.

The BUGA Fibre Pavilion was designed to transfer this biological principle of load-adapted, highly-differentiated fibre- composite systems into an architecturally-conceived structure. Manmade composites, such as the glass- or carbon-fibre-reinforced plastics used here, share their fundamental characteristics with natural composites.


The pavilion covers an area of some  400 square metres and has a free span exceeding 23 metres. It is enclosed by a transparent, mechanically pre-stressed ETFE membrane.

The primary loadbearing structure is made from just 60 bespoke fibre composite components. Weighing 7.6 kilograms per square metre it is exceptionally lightweight, approximately five times lighter than a conventional steel structure. The elaborate testing procedures required for full approval showed that a single fibrous component can take up to 250 kN of compression force, which equals around 25 tonnes.

The black carbon filament bundles, wrapping around the translucent glass fibre lattice, create a stark contrast in texture. This architectural articulation is heightened by the gradation from sparser carbon filaments at the top towards their denser application on the slenderest components that meet the ground. The pavilion thus exposes its underlying design principles in an explicable, expressive manner.