Hygro Pavilion

by Gabriela Gonzales Faria
24 Mar 2014 / 4871 Views


Hygro Pavilion 4.00/5 (6 votes)

Hygro Pavilion is the final outcome of a research project developed with parameterized hemp fiber components that react to relative humidity and other environmental and meteorological conditions, without an external source of energy or mechanisms. To develop an eco – machinic pavilion was the task of the 2012/13 Digital Tectonics Research Studio (MAA – IAAC), thus our group proposed Hygro Pavilion, which combined all of the data collected through a series of diverse experiments conducted rapidly during six months.

The research studio was divided into two stages:

  • The first part focused on studying the nature of hemp, its cultural and historical background, phytomorphology, behaviours, processes, etc.
  • One particular characteristic was then extracted from growth experiments, and further developed during fiber experiments in the second stage. The aim was to achieve hemp components applicable to a pavilion at Valldaura Self – Sufficient Lab, in Collserola Natural Park, close to Barcelona.

Growth experiments
Early on, the team was interest in using CO2 to potentialize the properties of the hemp plant and speed up its growth process. The aim was to link this concept with the fact that industrial hemp plantations have proven to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop and are therefore the ideal carbon sink. Hence the ecologic agenda of negative carbon emissions became part of the project brief. Growth experiments were set up with indoor system conditions, working with seedlings and small plants exposed to three different levels of CO2: high, medium and low. The plants were bred in incubators, named Apparatus. Every time the plants were exposed to a different kind of CO2, a new Apparatus was constructed.

At the end of this first phase, four Apparatus were built and tested with three types of CO2 feeding:

  • blowing respiratory air
  • CO2 pills diluted in water
  • home made CO2

Apparatus 3.1 performed as a cluster of incubators for the final growth experiment (3.1), and the team concluded that hemp plants exposed to a higher level of home made CO2 exhibited a more efficient Photosynthesis and created a higher level of humidity inside its incubators.
Other interesting patterns that were observed during these experiments (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1) were:

  • Phyllotaxis patterns (Paraschita type)
  • Humidity generation patterns inside the incubators, closely related to Phototropism
  • and most importantly: the movement of plants when exposed to temperature fluctuations, known as Thermotropism

The conclusions and patterns were summarised in a diagram which was decisive for the  following fiber experimentations.

Fiber experiments
Concluding from the Thermotropism and Phototropism diagram, hemp fiber experiments were developed which related mainly to the Hygroscopic ability combined into Anisotropy. The team produced an initial matrix, split in two categories, for conducting the first fiber experiments:

  • Hygroscopicity – variable or environmental conditions (temperature, humidity and wind)
  • Anisotropy – fixed conditions (glue mix, fiber orientation, amount of layers of fiber and fiber mix)

This first matrix and its results, led to the creation of a fiber sheet protocol and the refinement of the production process of sheets, the materials and tools required for this. The protocol was divided into three phases:

1. combing and laying down the first layer
2. additive matrix and combing and laying second layer
3. pressing and merging both

Component experiments
Thus after obtaining four sheets with different properties, eight component experiments were developed, where these sheets were tested for their response to environmental conditions. Each prototype experiment included a meticulous description of its specific protocol, structure, fiber elements, glue matrix, machinic fabrication, performance and conclusions.
Among all these experiments, one was determinant to the final component performance to relative humidity fluctuations: prototype 4.0. It was entirely created as an Anisotropy Matrix, as the team named it, and its objective was restricted to an anisotropic study only.
After comparing all performances conclusions, Prototype 6.0, also named Flipping surface, was chosen as the protocol to apply to the pavilion. This prototype evolved from 5.0 – Trigger and reactor – but was constructed as a tridimensional component this time, and it envisioned the parameterization of the pieces according to the environmental conditions of the site, in order to trigger the hygroscopic reaction.

Hygro pavilion, our eco – machinic pavilion
After visiting Valldaura, five optional sites were selected as potential locations for the Hygro pavilion. Because of the performative property of the building and for that, its close relation to environmental and meteorological conditions, the final site was selected. The visual connections and altitude, solar radiation considering trees projected shadows and the proximity to existing sources of water and energy were also important considerations.

Detailed environmental analyses were conducted on the final site, seeking for all the materials necessary to initiate an ecological form–finding method to determine the pavilion morphology, achieving maximum exposition to annual solar radiation. After locating the trees surrounding it, a 10 meters average height was assigned, which was then divided in three segments, creating two nodes and from every node connecting lines. Some lines were selected to create the final mesh, which was optimised to the solar radiation.

The mesh of the Hygro pavilion was analysed for solar incident radiation, as well as for shadow projection of the mesh itself, including sun path diagram, wind directions and the humidity level in the surrounding mass of air depending on the distance between the grid faces to the center of the closest trees.

Eighteen panels composed the pavilion’s mesh. Three cases were analysed in detail, panels 4, 9 and 12, in four different scenarios: spring, summer, winter, autumn; applying the parameterization logic developed in previous experiments, into its hemp fiber components. The goal was to personalize the reaction for every panel, since each one was exposed to very different meteorological conditions.
The parameterization applied to the components, followed three actions:

  • rotation of the component system’s length
  • different scale of components
  • different orientation of fiber

Finally, the pavilion was virtually inserted in the site, its presence rather mimetic than imposed. The materials that composed it were all traditional and easy to obtain on site and local stores, with the exception of the hemp fiber components.Every part, panel and opening that constitute Hygro pavilion, was functionally justified. For instance, the three openings directed the views to the three neighboring cities: Barcelona, Sabadell and Rubi. Also, the pavilion was elevated from the floor to capture conditions that were more favorable to natural humidity occurrence, in order to trigger the components reaction so that the interior space is permanently comfortable.

Panel 9
Among the three panels studied in detail, Panel 9 was fabricated in 1:1 for the final presentation. It performed notably well in a two hours time-lapse, after being located closely to a light artefact, at the beginning of the presentation. At the end of it, one could perceive how the panel reacted through radically changing the shape of its components.

Hygro Pavilion is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the Master in Advanced Architecture in 2012-2013
Students: Nasr Chamma, Gabriela Gonzales Faria, Venkata Alluri Kasi Raju, Aishwarya Sampath
Faculty: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto