Ultra-thin printed formwork ─ The Eggshell Pavilion

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The Eggshell Pavilion
© Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich

The Eggshell Pavilion investigates how digital design tools and robotic 3D printing may be used to create freeform concrete buildings out of recycled ultra-thin formwork. The design and production of the pavilion are based on Eggshell technology, which uses computational approaches to create algorithms that produce both the geometry of the building and the fabrication data for the 3D-printing process. In contrast to traditional formwork procedures, which are frequently labor and cost-intensive, the combination of computational design and robotic manufacturing enables designers to shape concrete pieces effectively.

The pavilion was developed and built-in collaboration with students from ETH Zurich’s MAS program in Architecture and Digital Fabrication.

The Eggshell Pavilion
© Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich

The ultra-thin formwork for the Eggshell Pavilion’s architectural components is only three to five millimeters thick. It is built of glass fiber reinforced PET-G that has been partially recycled from earlier Eggshell formworks. Traditional steel reinforcement is used to strengthen both the columns and the floor slabs. They are linked by reversible connectors, allowing the pavilion to be removed and reassembled in a different place.

The Eggshell Pavilion
© Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich

The components are made of two distinct kinds of concrete. The columns are made of fast-setting concrete and cast utilizing a digitally controlled technique. The fast-setting concrete decreases the strain on the formwork to a bare minimum, allowing for the use of thin 3D-printed formwork without risk of breakage. The floor slabs, on the other hand, are cast from ordinary self-compacting concrete since the formwork pressure is reduced due to the low height. Once the concrete has solidified completely, the formwork is removed, cleaned, shredded, and re-compounded for reuse in future 3D printers.

The Eggshell Pavilion
© Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich

Its design emphasizes the design options provided by 3D-printed formwork in conjunction with traditional reinforcing and assembly methods. It highlights how Eggshell technology may be utilized to create an industrially scalable system for material-efficient concrete structures, opening the path for more sustainable concrete use in construction.

The Eggshell Pavilion
© Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich

Project Info

Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich: Joris Burger (project lead research), Petrus Aejmelaeus-Lindström (project lead teaching), Guillaume Jami.
Students: Vasileios Aloutsanidis, El Mehdi Belyasmine, Ananya Kango, Che Wei Lin, Wenjun Liu, Erika Marthins, Nikolaos Maslarinos, Gabriele Mattei, Andrea Victoria Mendoza, Chris Norcross, Muslima Rafikova, Joaquin Tobar Martinez, Katarina Toumpektsi, Jingwen Wang, Ming Yang Wang, Vincent Wörndl, Hanbing Zhao
In cooperation with: Nicolas Fehlmann Ingénieurs Conseils SA (Dr. Filip Niketi), Physical Chemistry of Building Materials, ETH Zurich –- Professor. Dr. Robert J. Flatt (Seyma Gürel Saydam)
Selected Experts: Marc Akermann (IWK Institut für Werkstofftechnik und Kunststoffverarbeitung – Professor. Daniel Schwendemann), Theo Bürgin (Bürgin Creations)
Support: Philippe Fleischmann, Michael Lyrenmann, Tobias Hartmann (Robotic Fabrication Laboratory, ETH Zurich), Andreas Reusser (Physical Chemistry of Building Materials, ETH Zurich)
Sponsors: ABB, Debrunner Acifer Bewehrungen, Holcim, Krinner, MÜLLER-STEINAG ELEMENT AG, NFIC, SACAC AG, Welti Furrer

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