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V&A unwraps robot-built pavilion

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Work has completed on a new carbon-fibre pavilion built in the V&A’s courtyard by robots

The components of the temporary structure, designed by Stuttgart-based architect Achim Menges, were built by robots at the University of Stuttgart before being assembled on site at the museum. 

The 200m2 pavilion has been inspired by the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as eleytra.

The scheme is the result of four years of research on the integration of architecture, engineering, and biomimicry and explores how biological fibre systems can be transferred to structures.

While the pavilion is on site further components will be made by robots on site and the installation will grow and change its shape in response to anonymous data gathered over the course of the V&A’s engineering season.

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A

The project has been built using a new technique which involves robot arms winding composite materials. This innovative winding method has been designed to harness the material properties of carbon fibres to give them strength as woven structural components.

The pavilion’s canopy is made of 40 hexagonal component cells each weighing an average of 45kg and taking around three hours to complete. To make each of these components, a robot wound resin-soaked glass and carbon fibres around a hexagonal scaffold.

The pavilion will be on display in the V&A’s John Madejski Garden until 6 November.

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A

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