Sand Dollar-Inspired Park Pavilion

Have you ever seen such an interestingly shaped structure? An architectural experiment was undertaken by the Institute for Computer-Based Design and the Institute for Structural Engineering and Structural Design with help from University of Stuttgart students. As is the goal with many architects, finding highly efficient forms in nature then replicating them in an architectural form was the main focus of this study. After researching many different species the team discovered the Sand Dollar, which is part of the sea urchin family. It was chosen for its ability to remain lightweight while flexible and have a high load bearing weight. With this in mind, the group set out to identify how to translate these features into a structure.

After analyzing the skeletal makeup of the Sand Dollar, a modular polygonal plate was used in construction that would connect together and form a geometric building. The plates use finger joints which reflects how the Sand Dollar's shell plates come together using a similar notch system. Made out of thin sheets of plywood, the pavilion is 72 square ft and, due to its light weight, had to be bolted down to keep if from blowing away.

This kind of multidisciplinary research and collaboration was another main element of the project. Using a mix of scientists, architects, computer programmers, and students this undertaking was a great example of how frameworks in nature can be observed and used to create a new and distinct structure that mimics its natural counterpart. The pavilion has been built and now offers a resting spot for park visitors to sit and relax while observing this inventive building.

Institute for Computational Design's website
Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design's website
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