A lightweight bamboo pavilion made with digital fabrication

Students at ETH Zurich created an extremely lightweight and filigree pavilion from bamboo, using innovative digital fabrication technology.

Bamboo is a rapidly renewable and high-quality raw material. As a building material, it is comparable to hardwood species, but thanks to its hollow core, it is very lightweight and bendable.

The pavilion is visually similar to the arch of a Gothic cathedral, weighing just 200 kg in total and stretches an area of more than 40 m2. It is constructed of more than 900 bamboo poles that are connected through digitally designed joints and manufactured with sub-millimetre accuracy in high strength nylon and stainless steel using 3D printing technologies. The 3D orienting allowed for complex geometry and structural specifications for each joint. In total there are 379 connections and a large number of small parts used.

The five-metre-high pavilion creates protective shade with precise and detailed textile panels that extend the intrinsic pattern of the structural elements. The students designed elements to be 3D printed using a recyclable, UV-resistant and malleable plastic onto a lightweight Lycra textile, which locally reinforces the base material.

Thanks to the modular design, the structure can be assembled and disassembled extremely quickly. The Digital Bamboo Pavilion was assembled on-site at the Zurich Architecture Centre (ZAZ) in just 48 hours in summer 2020, before being disassembled in the same short time.

Photos: Andrei Jipa / Matthias Leschok / Marirena Kladeftira