SUTD LIBRARY GRIDSHELL PAVILION BY CITY FORM LAB

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The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) library pavilion is located on a sloping lawn on the temporary Dover Campus.


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Accommodating three mature trees and forming a noise barrier toward the Ayer Raja Expressway in the north, the gridshell structure of the pavilion harnesses the site constraints and activates an outdoor space behind the existing library building.


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During the day, it offers a shaded open-air place to relax, work, and mingle for students and staff of the university. At night it becomes a place for informal gatherings, evening lectures and SUTD community events.


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Work desks, mobile bookshelves and wireless internet transform it into a “third space” between the dormitory and the classroom where intellectual and social exchange occurs in a casual atmosphere.


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Design & Construction Process:

Building upon a long tradition of catenary structures that use little material to achieve considerable spans, the canopy forms a lightweight timber shell with no columns, beams, or vertical walls.


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A numeric hanging-chain model was used to determine an efficient double-curvature shape that follows the lines of thrust in compression.


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Using computational design and computer-controlled fabrication allowed the pavilion’s complex three-dimensional form to be achieved with readily available materials and a streamlined assembly process at minimal cost.


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Unlike steel gridshells, it has no complex three-dimensional structural joints – all of its elements were prefabricated from strictly flat plywood and galvanized steel sheets on CNC machines in Singapore.


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The site work thus comprised an orderly assembly of 3,000 unique plywood and 600 unique sheet-metal tiles based on only one drawing – the numeric map of a three-dimensional puzzle indicating which pieces fit next to which other pieces.


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ID numbers were engraved in the cutting process on each plywood and cladding element, which remain visible in the finished structure as ornament. First year SUTD students assisted with the pre-assembly of the pieces and the contractor erected the structure on site. The pavilion is designed to be dismantled and recycled after two years.

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Location:Dover Rd, Singapore

Architects:City FormLab

Project Team: Andres Sevtsuk, Raul Kalvo

Engineering:ARUP (Russel Cole, Mike King, Benjamin Sitler)

Construction:Arina International Hogan (AIH) and SUTD students

Sponsors:Arina International Hogan (AIH), ARUP, Autodesk

Area:200m² / 2,153ft² (covered), 300m² / 3,229ft² (deck)

Year:2013

Photographs:Raul Kalvo, Courtesy of City Form Lab

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