[C]space DRL10 Pavilion

This pavilion was the winning entry to an international design competition held by the world renowned Architectural Association school to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their Graduate Design course. The structure was intended as an experimental design research project that was also available for use by the general public and was located on Bedford Square in London, near the British Museum where it provided a rare place for the public to sit and gather informally.

It’s visually striking presence invites inspection from a distance and more closely reveals the merging of many discrete flat concrete elements into a single continuous curved form with a thick base that is stepped and ramped to accommodate many different uses.

As you move around, the appearance of the pavilion varies from opaque to transparent, producing a stunning three-dimensional moiré. The 12m span structure encloses while also providing a route through for passing pedestrians and blurring the distinction between inside and outside, shelter and stage.

[C]space is the winning entry in the AADRL10 Pavilion competition, which was held to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the AA Design Research Lab in conjunction with an exhibition and publication of a book that comprehensively documents the work of the course.

The competition was open to all 354 graduates and the winning entry was designed and developed by Alan Dempsey and Alvin Huang. It was selected by the jury for the proposals radical use of material, it’s expression of form as a continuous transformation of furniture to floor, walls and roof structure; and it’s constructability within a tight schedule and budget. The design was proposed to be entirely constructed from Fibre-C, a thin fibre reinforced cement panel that is normally used as a cladding solution.

The striking presence of the pavilion invites inspection from a distance and upon closer interaction reveals its ambiguity through the merging of sinuous curves, structural performance, and programmatic functions into a single continuous form. As you move around, the surface varies from opaque to transparent, producing a stunning three-dimensional moiré. The surface encloses while also providing a route through for passing pedestrians blurring the distinction between inside and outside.

The jointing system in the pavilion exploits uses a simple interlocking cross joint which is tightened by a set of locking neoprene gaskets. Close consultation with the Fibre-C technical department in Austria and extensive material testing were required to develop the design. Over a period of 6 weeks 16 iterations of the design model were analysed before a structural solution was found. In parallel to the digital modelling, numerous rapid prototypes, scale models and full scale physical mock-ups were built to develop the design of individual elements and test the tolerance and fit of entire assemblies.

The final pavilion constructed from 850 individually unique profiles that are nested on standard 13mm flat sheets and CNC water cut. Once delivered to site the entire pavilion was assembled over a period of 3 weeks by a dedicated team of DRL staff and students with assistance from Rieder. Over 70 drawing sheets were produced by the design team that described in detail step by step assembly sequence and accurately located each piece within the overall structure.


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