Tag Archives: Robotics

Universität Stuttgart Uses Robotics and Biomimicry to Create an Outdoor Event Pavillion

Researchers from Universität Stuttgart in Germany look to a sea creature and advanced digital timber-fabrication methods to construct an event pavilion called Buga Wood Pavilion for a horticultural show.

A group of 18 researchers and craftsmen led by Universität Stuttgart professors Jan Knippers, a structural engineer, and Achim Menges, an architect contributed to the project. “A biomimetic approach to architecture enables interdisciplinary thinking,” says Menges.

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Buga Wood Pavilion took 13 months to develop, and 17,000 robotically milled finger joints and 2 million lines of custom robotic code to build.

Photography courtesy of Universität Stuttgart.

To create the Buga Wood Pavilion for a horticultural show in nearby Heilbronn, Germany, researchers at Universität Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design and Construction and its Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design developed a robotic-manufacturing platform to CNC-cut geometric panels and form a segmented timber shell.

Photography courtesy of Universität Stuttgart.

Composed of spruce laminate, a rubber waterproofing layer, and a larch plywood exterior, the individual segments were fabricated at Müllerblaustein Holzbauwerke, a local workshop. 

Photography courtesy of Universität Stuttgart.

Working on boom lifts, craftsmen assembled the structure on-site over 10 days. 

Photography courtesy of Universität Stuttgart.

The 376 segments were joined via steel bolts. 

Photography courtesy of Universität Stuttgart.

The pavilion’s form is based on the exoskeleton of the sea urchin. 

Photography by Roland Halbe.

Buga’s form echoes the surrounding land­scape of  Sommerinsel, one of the 15 sites that the biennial Bundesgarten­schau takes place this year. 

Photography by Roland Halbe.

The combination of spruce, rubber, and larch plywood make the installation acoustically sound. 

Photography by Roland Halbe.

Fully assembled, the pavilion spans 104 feet and reaches 23 high.

Photography by Roland Halbe.

It is hosting concerts, lectures, and workshops through October 6, when it will be disassembled for future use. 

Photography by Roland Halbe.

LEDs illuminate the shell at night. 

> See more from the July 2019 issue of Interior Design


Arktura Brings the Outside in With Earth-Friendly Acoustical Fittings

When Los Angeles design and fabrication firm Arktura started working with Partners by Design Chicago on Mead Johnson Nutrition’s Chicago office, they had a challenging task to accomplish. The client, a major manufacturer of baby formula, wanted an acoustical ceiling installation that not only attenuated sound across its 61,660-square-foot office, but also one that communicated their brand’s mission to nourish children around the world. Oh, and it had to be earthy-friendly, too. The company’s new headquarters in the Windy City sits at the intersection of the north, south, and east branches of the Chicago River. Arktura took that watery influence and ran with it, expediting the development and launch of its Soft Sound Wood Finish product, a PET-based, fully recyclable acoustical material that mimics wood grain. The firm installed the material using a custom application of its Atmosphera Analog 3D ceiling system, an attachment system of morphing fins and baffles. Using these two products in concert, Arktura echoed the soft undulations of the Chicago river across the large office space, resulting in a beautifully designed, high-performance sound attenuation ceiling system that made the connection between water, a symbol of life, and Mead Johnson’s mission statement. 

Interior Design sat down with Sebastian Muñoz, Arktura’s director of project design and development, to learn more about the particulars of this exacting project.

Arktura’s Atmosphera ceiling systems are 95% open in plan to accommodate a wide range of building systems and lighting. Photography courtesy of Arktura. 

Interior Design: What was your approach to the Mead Johnson Nutrition project? 

Sebastian Muñoz: The client was really drawn to the site’s natural surroundings and location, and they wanted to use a natural palette. Our approach was to incorporate the organic movements of water with another natural, but more inflexible element: wood. We wanted to marry the fluid, flexible image of water with the warmth and sturdiness of wood. 

Interior Design: What was the biggest design challenge?

SM: The most difficult part was actually the most fun part. Getting all the little details to fit together just right can get complicated when you are coordinating with a lot of different people on a project. Having a great team made that part achievable. 

The client used Arktura’s Graphic Perf process to create the stairway’s aluminum guardrails and the brand logo behind reception. Photography courtesy of Arktura.

Interior Design: What does this project represent in Arktura’s overall profile?

SM: The Mead Johnson Nutrition headquarters showcases how we are constantly pushing ourselves in terms of R&D and manufacturing. We used Soft Sound Wood Finish for the first time for this project, which is also completely new to the architectural industry. I’m very proud of the level of R&D we pushed through, especially for such a high-profile space. 

A custom pattern of perforations in the guardrails reiterates the client’s desire for natural elements in the design by allowing sunlight to filter into the office. Photography courtesy of Arktura.

Interior Design: What design problems does your product solve in the Mead Johnson Nutrition project?

SM: From a performance standpoint, our aim for this product was to create a pleasant acoustically treated space. When someone is standing a floor below, talking to a colleague, and the room responds well acoustically, they shouldn’t even notice what’s going on—it should just sound and feel natural. That means our product is working very well. 

Arktura’s integration of aerospace-level engineering and design expertise into its products makes projects like Mead Johnson Nutrition stand out. Photography courtesy of Arktura.

Interior Design: What’s next for Arktura?

SM: We’ve expanded our manufacturing team to increase the scope of our capabilities, including our use of robotics. We’re also expanding our range of custom services. We just finished seven sports stadium canopies at Orange County Great Park, in Irvine, CA, one of the largest sports facilities in the country.

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