robotically wound flax fiber builds a 'bioinspired' pavilion in freiburg, germany

Jul 19, 2021

a team of architects, engineers and biologists from the university of freiburg and the university of stuttgart has realized the first-ever building with a load-bearing structure made entirely of robotically wound flax fiber. erected inside the botanic garden at the university of freiburg in germany, the ‘livMatS pavilion‘ combines natural materials with advanced digital technologies in a bid to find more sustainable methods of construction.

images by ICD/ITKE/intCDC university of stuttgart

inspired by structures found in nature, the temporary pavilion is composed of 15 coreless components. each one of these components is prefabricated from flax fiber. the flax fiber is robotically wound into a carefully calculated truss structure, complete with corner reinforcement and structural bracing. the construction system serves twofold: the flax fiber provides a fully naturally renewable, biodegradable and regionally available resource while the robotic fabrication means none of the material is wasted.

the final load-bearing structure weighs approximately 1.5 t, covers an area of 46 sqm, and is topped with a waterproof polycarbonate skin. this skin provides shelter in adverse weather and protects the flax fibers from direct UV radiation and moisture from rain or snow. the final design not only looks good, but it also complies with german building codes and related structural permit requirements, demonstrating the real large-scale application of natural fibers in construction.

for the next 5 years, the livMatS pavilion will serve as an outdoor lecture room at the university of freiburg, which uses the botanic garden within the concept of ‘learning from nature in nature’ as a research and teaching site. the joint project has been developed by biologists from the clusters of excellence livMatS at the university of freiburg, and an interdisciplinary team of architects and engineers from intCDC at the university of stuttgart.

project info:

name: livMatS pavilion

location: botanic garden of the university of freiburg, freiburg, germany

project team:

ICD institute for computational design and construction – prof. achim menges cluster of excellence intCDC, university of stuttgart

ITKE institute of building structures and structural design – prof. jan knippers cluster of excellence intCDC, university of stuttgart

scientific development: marta gil pérez, serban bodea, niccolò dambrosio, bas rongen, christoph zechmeister project management: katja rinderspacher, marta gil pérez, monika göbel

concept development, system development, prototyping: 2018-2020: talal ammouri, vanessa costalonga martins, sacha joseph cutajar, edith anahi gonzalez san martin, yanan guo, james hayward, silvana herrera, jeongwoo jang, nicolas kubail kalousdian, simon jacob lut, eda özdemir, gabriel rihaczek, anke kristina schramm, lasath ryan siriwardena, vaia tsiokou, christo van der hoven, shu chuan yao

2018-2019: karen andrea antorveza paez, okan basnak, guillaume caussarieu, zhetao dong, kurt drachenberg, roxana firorella guillen hurtado, ridvan kahraman, dilara karademir, laura kiesewetter, grzegorz łochnicki, francesco milano, yue qi, hooman salyani, nasim sehat, tim stark, zi jie, jake tan, irina voineag

facade development: tim stark

with support of: okan basnak, yanan guo, axel körner

student assistance: matthew johnson, daniel locatelli, francesca maisto, mahdieh hadian rasanani, lorin samija, anand shah, lena strobel, max zorn

FibR GmbH, stuttgart: moritz dörstelmann, ondrej kyjanek, philipp essers, philipp gülke

with support of: erik zanetti, elpiza kolo, prateek bajpai, hooman salyani, jamiel abubaker, julian fial, sergio maggiulli, mansour ba, christo van der hoven

a joint project of the clusters of excellence livMatS, university of freiburg (prof. dr. thomas speck, prof. dr. jürgen rühe,) and intCDC, university of stuttgart

project support: deutsche bundesstiftung umwelt, exolon group GmbH