form found design reveals world's first robotically built concrete pavilion in california

form found design reveals world's first robotically built concrete pavilion in california


being the first robotically built concrete structure in southern california, the MARS pavilion by form found design explores a construction methodology in which humans and machines collaborate. the precision of ABB robots and the freedom of fabric were coupled to achieve an organic geometry and adjustable concrete mold.

MARS pavilion with ABB robots in the background in palm springs, CA
image (header) © joseph sarafian



joseph sarafian and ron culver from form found design based the project on a catenary chain model, in which lines of the canopy are left to sag under the effect of gravity. this geometry is inverted upwards, creating a compression structure where the most integral properties of concrete are exploited. to ensure the success of this methodolgy, walter p. moore engineering were the consultants on this project regarding structural engineering.

robotic positioning of fabric formwork: no two concrete components are the same

MARS pavilion with robots in the background
image © ben rose photography



in the process, fabric molds are sewn and robots are moved into position to mount the material to their ends. cement, steel fiber, and water are then mixed together and poured into the molds. each component takes approximately 45 minutes to cast and cure, creating a rapidly reconfigurable formwork.

MARS pavilion interior, showing the hex grid
image © ben rose photography

joseph sarafian and ron culver at MARS conference
image © ben rose photography




MARS pavilion illuminated at night with robots in the background

ron culver and joseph sarafian in front of pavilion
image © ben rose photography

ABB robotic casting process with manipulated fabric formwork
image © tony castillo

ron culver de-mounting cast concrete from ABB robots
image © tony castillo

70 unique ‘wishbones’ cast on robots form the MARS pavilion
image © tony castillo

ABB robot arms position fabric formwork in los angeles
image © tony castillo



project info: 


architecture: form found design
engineering: walter p. moore

partners: ABB robotics

client: amazon

location: palm springs

dimensions: 20x20x13’
design team: joseph sarafian, ron culver, steve fuchs, andrew lindauer, david spiva



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.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom

  • Didn’t they display this structure in Madison square park earlier this year?

    Kendall says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
490,387 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample