Elytra Filament Pavilion Features New Robot-Fabricated Building Material

This week, the robot-fabricated Elytra Filament Pavilion opened at the Victoria & Albert museum in London. It’s unusual structure is made from a super strong and lightweight new filament made up of glass and carbon that mimics elytra, the hard shell that protects the wings of a beetle.

To create the structure, this new filament is stitched together by two Kuka robots into hexagon shaped cells. The robots wind the resin-saturated glass carbon and fibres around a steel framework. As they work, the robots are sent real-time data from sensors that monitor the stress and structural loads the structure is under at that particular moment. From this data, the robots determine the geometry of that particular hexagonal cell. As the stresses and loads change at every point throughout the structure, no two hexagons are the same.

After the fibres harden, the steel framework is 
removed, leaving just the fibre. The resulting structure is extremely lightweight as the roughly 200 square meter pavilion weights around 2.5 tons, the same weight as 2 square meters of brick wall.

This incredible project is the work of architects Achim Menges and Moritz Dörstelmann, as well as structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer. They hope to continue their work and research into elytra with the aim of sparking more self-monitoring, robotically fabricated architecture structures.

The pavilion will be on show at the V&A for the next six months (until November 6, 2016) with the robots making several special appearances to show the public how they work!