Prototype Pavilion
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22 Aug 2012 / in

Prototype Pavilion
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Spring 2012 M.Arch Year 3 MIT Workshop
Instructors: Larry Sass  TA: Asli Arpaks
Building Type: Summer pavilion
Class Topic: Digital fabrication & communications
Team: Collaboration of a class of 20

This design exercise was to test collaboration in the digital age. Could a team of 14 design a pavilion with only 2 physical meetings, in only 4 weeks, and fabricate and assemble it in 4 days? Developing digital communication techniques and coordination was key to the success of the project.

As part of the collaboration, our team (3) were responsible for coming up with an assembly method, integrating the structure with the foundation, and designing the concrete footings.
Our initial understanding of a foundation was that it had to fit with the form of the element and that it was very much an extrusion as a function of structures. Our early sketches had elaborated on a few things; we wanted uniqueness but didn’t like the trouble of creating unique molds for ever possible conditions. Various models were made to test the connections between the structure and footing and the mold design. Eventually a design involving spacers allowed the footing to be modular while the connections could be parameterized. Modularizing the concrete parts allowed the molds to remain the same and all the pieces to be cut out from just 4 sheets of plywood.
For the mold, we came up with an idea where the mold would expand when one pulled the sides upward. That’s partly because the form of the foundation allowed the notches to not be vertical so there was no perpendicular relationship with the pour. Therefore the mold walls are never moving parallel to the surface of concrete as you pulled it apart. The connection pieces allow the structure above to just land on the foundation. As designs were tested, the mold was modified so it was easier to remove. Eventually splitting the mold became priority to allow the mold to be as reusable as possible. The construction joint is hidden with the use of groves.