A steam-bent hardwood pavilion made with AR

Winner of this year’s Tallinn Architectural Biennial event in Estonia, the Steampunk pavilion is a steam-bent hardwood pavilion, made using primitive hand tools augmented with the precision of intelligent holographic guides.

Designed by Gwyllim Jahn and Cameron Newnham of the company Fologram in collaboration with Soomeen Hahm Design and Igor Pantic, the pavilion was created without drawings or lines of CNC code from which the parts might have be cut, printed or assembled.

“While computer aided manufacturing and robotics have given architects unprecedented control over the materialization of their designs, the nuance and subtlety commonly found in traditional craft practices is absent from the artefacts of robotic production because the intuition and understanding of the qualitative aspects of a project as well as the quantitative is difficult to describe in the deterministic and explicit language of these machines,” the designers say.

Instead, they developed an experimental approach that “serves as a deliberate polemic in the context of robotic production and automation”. Digital models were rendered as holographic overlays directly within construction environments. Wearing a Microsoft HoloLens headsets, which worked with Fologram’s own software, the fabricators could use their own expertise and inventiveness to produce complex objects by following the holographic guidelines using relatively primitive analogue tools. This approach removed the necessity of anticipating every aspect of material behaviour in digital models.

The pavilion consists of twisting timber sections in a composite timber and steel shell. The timber elements are made using the process of steam bending. Each strip is bagged, steamed, and bent over an adaptable, mouldless framework using a holographic model as a reference to the desired result.

The holographic model provides a clear visual feedback on the accuracy of the forming process, but leaves room for intuitively adapting the fabrication techniques of formwork positions. Physical parts can also be digitalised and fed back into the digital model, allowing the design to accommodate and adapt where necessary.

Photos: Fologram / Tonu Tunnel / Cameron Newnham