Robots and humans work side-by-side to construct the Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall

July 4, 2014

A design team in Germany have managed to get robots to construct an interlocking timber structured building. The Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall in Stuttgart has been designed with 240 individual segments of plywood made from beech wood using a fabrication method that involves robots. The structure used 12 cubic metres of timber in its construction and measure 17 meters tall by 245 meters.

[Image Source: University of Stuttgart]

The building takes on the appearance of what looks like a peanut, with the exhibition hall being made of panels of plywood of only 50mm in thickness. The whole building used 7,600 finger joints that interlock into a shell that doesn’t need any further support.


[Image Source: University of Stuttgart]

The design took inspiration straight from anture, with one of the main examples being the skeleton of a sea urchin. The calcium carbonate plates, which are joined together by interlocking projections on the plate edge became the template. This method was used for the plywood plates and the finger joints, which were human constructed.

[Image Source: University of Stuttgart]

The team at the Institute for Computational Design along with the Institute of Engineering Geodesy and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design worked together on the hall. The buildings construction also incorporated insulation along with cladding and waterproofing. So as to keep in with the theme of sustainable construction, even the off cuts were not wasted, these were turned into the parquet flooring that is a feature inside the hall and so waste reduction was minimised.

[Image Source: University of Stuttgart]

The team managed to construct the hall in three weeks and the whole structure was put together in another four weeks, totalling seven weeks from start to finish. They put this down to the fact that robots were used to shape wood across multiple planes. They were able to do this by working out the shape of panels using a CAD program and then going on to program the robot to cut the panels in the most effective way possible.

[Image Source: University of Stuttgart]

The fabrication accuracy of the building is said to be a tight 0.86mm, a pretty exceptional figure when it comes to timber. The precision was needed for the geometries of the finger joint connections and was crucial to the force distribution throughout the shell. As the panels provided by Müllerblaustein Holzbau GmbH are so lightweight and thin, large tolerances could lead to huge problems.

[Image Source: University of Stuttgart]

[Image Source: University of Stuttgart]