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V&A reveals plans for robot-built pavilion

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Robots will be used to build a new pavilion in the V&A’s courtyard as part of its forthcoming engineering season

The temporary structure, designed by Stuttgart-based architect Achim Menges, will feature an undulating canopy of tightly woven carbon fibre cells. 

The installation at the Kensington-based museum has been inspired by the lightweight fibrous structure of flying beetles.

The pavilion will grow over the course of the programme in response to the use of the V&A’s courtyard garden and will be fabricated in-situ by a robot. 

Conceived in collaboration with computational design expert Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers, and climate engineer Thomas Auer, the pavilion will explore the impact of emerging robot technologies on architectural design. 

Achim Menges, commented: ‘Remember the impact that the first industrial revolution here in England had on architecture, as strikingly expressed in the Victorian Greenhouse? With Elytra: Filament Pavilion, we aim to offer a glimpse of the transformative power of the fourth industrial revolution currently underway, and the way it again challenges established modes of design, engineering and making. 

‘Built entirely from robotically produced fibrous systems, the Pavilion will intensify the visitor’s experience of the V&A’s Garden by providing a differentiated and evolving space. Its intricate, filament canopy is at the same time architectural envelope, load-bearing structure and environmental filter, which will extend and transform over time.’ 

The V&A’s engineering season, which runs from 18 May to 6 November, will also feature a major exhibition on the work of Ove Arup.

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