this lightweight pavilion spans 23 meters thanks to robotically-produced fiber composites

this lightweight pavilion spans 23 meters thanks to robotically-produced fiber composites

the university of stuttgart’s institute for computational design and construction (ICD) and institute for building structures and structural design (ITKE) have again teamed up to design and fabricate (with the help of robots) a pavilion made from advanced fiber composites. embedded within the landscape of a park in the german city of heilbronn, the structure combines cutting-edge computational technologies with constructional principles found in nature.

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart (also main image)



the ‘BUGA fibre pavilion’ builds on years of biomimetic research in architecture carried out by the ICD and the ITKE at the university of stuttgart. the pavilion’s load-bearing structure has been robotically produced using only advanced fiber composites. this ensures that the structure is not only exceptionally lightweight, but that it also provides a distinctive architectural expression and an extraordinary spatial experience.

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart



‘in biology most load-bearing structures are fiber composites,’ explains the design team. ‘they are made from fibers, as for example cellulose, chitin or collagen, and a matrix material that supports them and maintains their relative position. the astounding performance and unrivaled resource efficiency of biological structures stem from these fibrous systems. their organization, directionality and density is finely tuned and locally varied in order to ensure that material is only placed where it is needed.’

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart



the pavilion aims to transfer this biological principle of load-adapted and thus highly differentiated fiber composite systems into architecture. ‘manmade composites, such as the glass- or carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics that were used for this building, are ideally suited for such an approach because they share their fundamental characteristics with natural composites,’ the team continues. ‘only a few years ago, this pavilion would have been impossible to design or build.’

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart



the pavilion is made from more than 150,000 meters of spatially arranged glass- and carbon-fibers, which all need to be individually designed and placed. the building components are produced by robotic, coreless filament winding, where fibrous filaments are freely placed between two rotating winding scaffolds by a robot.

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart



during this process, the predefined shape of the building component emerges only from the interaction of the filaments, eliminating the need for any mold or core. during manufacturing, a lattice of translucent glass fibers is generated, onto which the black carbon fibers are placed where they are structurally needed.

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart



this results in highly load-adapted components with a highly distinct architectural appearance. the black carbon filament bundles, wrapping around the translucent glass fiber lattice, create a stark contrast in texture that is highlighted by the pavilion’s fully transparent skin.

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart



the pavilion covers a floor area of around 400 square meters (4,305 sqf) and achieves a free span of more than 23 meters (75ft). it is enclosed by a fully transparent, mechanically pre-stressed ETFE membrane. the primary load bearing structure is made entirely from 60 bespoke fiber composite components, and is approximately five times lighter than a more conventional steel structure.

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart



elaborate testing procedures required for full approval showed that a single fibrous component can take up to 250 kilonewtons of compression force, or the weight of more than 15 cars. opening on april 17, 2019, the pavilion is centrally located on the summer island of the bundesgartenschau 2019 and will house an exhibition titled ‘zukunftskarusell’.

image © ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart



project info:


project partners:


ICD – institute for computational design, university of stuttgart
prof. achim menges, serban bodea, niccolo dambrosio, monika göbel, christoph zechmeister


ITKE – institute of building structures and structural design, university of stuttgart
prof. jan knippers, valentin koslowski marta gil pérez, bas rongen
with support of:
rasha alshami, karen andrea antorvaeza paez, cornelius carl, sophie collier, james hayward, marc hägele, you-wen ji, ridvan kahraman, laura kiesewetter, xun li, grzegorz lochnicki, francesco milano, seyed mobin moussavi, marie razzhivina, sanoop sibi, zi jie tan, naomi kris tashiro, babasola thomas, sabine vecvagare, shu chuan yao


FibR GmbH, stuttgart
moritz dörstelmann, ondrej kyjanek, philipp essers, philipp gülke
with support of:
leonard balas, robert besinger, elaine bonavia, yen-cheng lu


bundesgartenschau heilbronn 2019 GmbH
hanspeter faas, oliver toellner


project building permit process:


landesstelle für bautechnik: dr. stefan brendler, dipl.-ing. steffen schneider
proof engineer: dipl.-ing. achim bechert, dipl.-ing. florian roos
DITF german institutes of textile and fiber research: prof. dr.-ing. götz t. gresser, pascal mindermann


planning partners:


belzner holmes light-design, stuttgart: dipl.-ing. thomas hollubarsch
BIB kutz GmbH &, karlsruhe: dipl.- ing. beatrice gottlöber
transsolar climate engineering, stuttgart: prof. thomas auer
frauenhofer-institut ICT: dipl.-ing. elisa seiler


project support: state of baden-wuerttemberg, university of stuttgart, baden-württemberg stiftung, GETTYLAB, forschungsinitiative zukunft bau, leichtbau BW, pfeifer GmbH, ewo GmbH, fischer group

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