GSAPP + NMIMS studios construct space + image pavilion in mumbai GSAPP + NMIMS studios construct space + image pavilion in mumbai
aug 12, 2014

GSAPP + NMIMS studios construct space + image pavilion in mumbai

GSAPP + NMIMS studios construct space + image pavilion in mumbai
all images courtesy of columbia university GSAPP




‘our environment today is increasingly influenced by nonmaterial conditions, from which we interpret material equivalences. from the stock market to urban regulations law, the tension between the virtual and the physical is increasingly richer and complex. most of the time, the rules defining architecture are based on the physical condition of gravity and the economical condition of construction cost. but other forces are shaping our society, from social to informational. are there other forces to be expressed in architecture than responding to gravity?’ these are the thoughts posed by professor frederic levrat and director phillip anzalone of columbia university. with these questions in mind, a group of six students from the graduate school of architecture, planning, and preservation (GSAPP) and narsee monjee institute of management studies (NMIMS) developed ‘space + image pavilion’, a small structure which would explore the relation between the virtual, the visual, and the physical. the theme of the project was a ‘materialization of information’, following some theories posed by henri bergson in ‘matter and memory’. perception, representation, cultural code of perception, and active perception filters, were initial drivers for a possible realization. 

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion




the site of the project is in mumbai, on the boardwalk promenade of carter road, sharing at the same time a position at the center and at the perimeter of the city. unscripted programs occur in the space all throughout the year and, with the help of studio X‘s director rajeev takkher, the local authorities allowed the collective to propose a design that could enhance the multi-purpose edge of the urban megalopolis. the project was mostly produced in GSAPP during a six-week process, where the students initially worked individually, then in groups around a single concept. meanwhile, pupils from mumbai were following the same syllabus and several skype conversations between the different continents established a rich cultural exchange.

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
the pavilion is completed only two days after the installation began




taking advantage of the kinne funds provided by columbia university and the studio X infrastructure, the american architects moved to mumbai for a 10-day intensive design, fabrication, and construction charrette. prototypes at full scale from new york had been made in honeycomb board and students were hoping to find a similar product abroad. unfortunately, the lack of availability of the preferred material on a short term procurement made them switch to a system of overlapping MDF. the repetitive rib system, expressing the fluid transformation of a visual frame responding to different perception depending on the position of the viewer, defines both the structure and its deformation. it is a self-referential system, repeating 26 times with each rib notating a slight transformation of the frame. in addition, a second series of 28 ribs intersect the primary set and rigidify the entire spatial device through their intersections.

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
inner and outer ribs intersect to create stability for the structure




atray chhaya, professor of architecture at NMIMS, provided his expertise for the sourcing and the manufacturing of the constructed elements. every component was extracted from the 3D rhino model and drawn in autoCAD to provide an overlapping joint. 430 MDF pieces in total were cut by a router operating on a 24-hour cycle. the first two days were employed at reconstructing the segments as a puzzle of hundreds of MDF pieces.

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
CNC routed MDF parts are laminated together to create the ribs




the extreme precision of the machine and the uniqueness of each curve made it fairly easy to assemble each loop without any measuring tool, each element responding to its inner logic, rather than aligning itself to an outside referential. due to the extreme heat during the day and the absence of shade, the work could only be accomplished during the evening and into the night, under the curious eyes of hundred of local residents. the pedagogy of the exercise also explored the limit of architecture as a media, and what architecture can achieve as a text or as a context. the floor boards became the spacers between the inner ribs, creating a new elevated datum, while the outer collection completed the connections. as the structure became larger it grew in stability, with the network of ribs supporting each other.

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion




the construction time was limited to two days and nights and the prefabricated system allowed a quick assemblage of the elements into complex spatial devices. all of the participants from the respective schools, along with assistance from four local carpenters, formed a dynamic team which worked uninterrupted until sunrise. at the opening, hundreds of passersby and young architects enjoyed the unusual structure, onto which an additional layer of images were projected. the rigid rectangular geometry of the initial frame dissolving slowly into a complex and informal element is a condition the local observer could readily understand and identify with, on the urban promenade, along the edge of the city facing the ocean, even if the abstract contours were open to any possible interpretation.

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
visitors use the pavilion as a backdrop for portraits

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
a child dances with his shadow at the opening

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
members of the project team from columbia GSAPP’s knowledge city spring 2014 studio

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
plan, section, and elevation drawings

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
axonometric diagrams

columbia gsapp mumbai nmims space image pavilion
site plan



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

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