Commencing the 16th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, in Venice, Italy, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia introduced one of the world’s largest 3D printed structures, the Cloud Pergola.
The Croatian pavilion was inspired by the intricacies of cloud formations and created using robotic 3D printing technology from Ai Build, a London-based company developing AI and Robotic technologies for additive manufacturing.
With the theme of Freespace, The International Architecture Exhibition is curated by Irish architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and will display architectural works from designers all around the world.
The Cloud Pergola installation represents Croatia’s take on the convergence of architecture, engineering, computational design and robotic fabrication.
The Cloud Pergola project
The Venice Biennale is a longstanding prestigious cultural institution that has expanded its repertoire by introducing festivals and exhibitions based on music, film, cinema, history, and architecture. Alisa Andrasek, Croatian architect, and Professor of Design Innovation Technology at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is exhibiting her design for the Cloud Pergola during the event.
Andrasek was the lead designer for the Cloud Pergola and is also the Director of two research-design laboratories, Biothing and Wonderlab. The design represents the unique dynamics between man-made structures and natural forces, “Cloud Pergola is coming out of a deep lineage of my research on high-resolution architecture, structures that are information-rich, co-designed with algorithms and AI, and built by robots.”
“Resonating the complexity of cloud formations and weather events, this mathematized cloud reimagines curatorial call for the pergola, in itself an architectural filter that here becomes a form of synthetic weather itself,” Andrasek added.
Combining AI, robots and 3D printing for construction
Ai Build previously worked with luxury fashion brand, Bottletop, to create a unique 3D printed store interior and has now used its autonomous large-scale 3D Printing technology, which includes the high-end precision robotic end effector, to print the parts of the structure. The parts are made from 300 kilograms of 3D printed biodegradable plastic.
Arup, a firm of designers, planners, consultants and technical specialists, also offered structural guidance throughout all phases of the design.
The parts were produced in London then shipped to Venice and assembled into the pavilion that covers an area of 57.6sqm and measures 3.3m in height. Cloud Pergola is now considered one of the world’s largest structures to be 3D printed entirely by robots.
Another similar structure, the VULCAN pavilion in Beijing, was once considered the world’s largest 3D printed structure, measuring 8.08m in length and 2.88m in height.
“Traditionally architects used to design with the constraints of standard, labour intensive fabrication methods. Now we are giving designers the ability to produce almost anything with robots. This new paradigm in fabrication is opening up the possibility to produce very complex designs that are driven by data, performance and novel aesthetics,” said Daghan Cam, Co-Founder and CEO of Ai Build.
Cam added, “Cloud Pergola is the perfect example of a strong, lightweight structure with unseen aesthetic qualities made possible by like-minded designers, engineers, technology specialists.”
Progress through robotic 3D printing
Dutch 3D printing firm MX3D, previously used autonomous 3D printing technology with two multi-axis robotic arms to print a steel bridge across one of Amsterdam’s canals.
Italian engineer, Enrico Dini, also explored the capabilities of robotic 3D printing through his creation of the world’s first construction scale 3D printer. Using a modified robotic arm at a shoe factory to create his D-Shape printer, Dini sacrificed his house and job to pursue his invention.
The Cloud Pergola is curated by Croatian Architect, Bruno Juričić and will be on display as part of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition until 25th November at The Venice Biennale.
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Featured image shows 3D the printed structure, Cloud Pergola. Photo via FoAM.