A timber and polycarbonate deployable grid shell

Designed by Spanish architectural studio Map13 Barcelona, in collaboration with Dutch Summum Engineering and Swiss Edyta Augustynowicz, the Portalen Pavilion is a public art piece consisting of a lightweight timber canopy with curved edges and covered on polycarbonate sheets.

The pavilion was designed as a meeting space and venue for debates, recitals, courses, theatre and other cultural activities. The design was inspired by the pioneering work at Frei Otto’s Institute for Lightweight Structures in the 1970s.

The Portalen Pavilion consists of two layers of timber laths in two directions, forming the grid. It can be built as a flat mat on the ground and then lifted to form a three dimensional curved surface that works as an efficient shell structure. The grid is supported by four curving edges meeting at the four corners. These open arches made of glued laminated timber. Instead of deploying the grid, the contractor opted to build the grid lath by lath, using the edges and a temporary support as guide work. After bracing the grid with steel cables, the entire shell was covered by polycarbonate sheets. This cladding allows for light to pass through, transforming the perception of the interior and the exterior space.

The pavilion is part of the community centre of Portalen (the Portal) in the neighbourhood of Hageby in the city of Norrköping, Sweden. Portalen is an organization and centre that welcomes new migrants in the city, and facilitates their integration into the local labour market.

Photos: Aldis Ellertsdottir / Niklas Jurander / Ricard Estay