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“Energy for life” – the timber structure of the French Pavilion at the EXPO 2015


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The French pavilion at the Expo 2015 in Milan is inspired by the covered market, a symbol of French food culture. Its three levels and façade are mainly built from glue-laminated timber, including a vaulted hall at its core, which covers almost 1,500 sqm. A grid of curved timber beams form the ceiling of this “market hall” and support the upper levels of the pavilion. At two corners the lattice rises up to the full height of 12 meters, inside it reaches 8 meters. It will be open to the public from May until October 2015 and is going to be disassembled and re-used after the EXPO.

This paper showcases the continuously digital process of planning and fabricating the pavilion’s unique timber structure, beginning with the first CAD-models developed by the architects X-Tu Paris and continuing with the development and engineering of the structure and the joints at its more than 600 crossing nodes, the programming of a parametric 3D-CAD-model in fabrication precision, the creation of machining data for 5-axis CNC-cutting more than 700 curved glue-lam beams, the pre-assembly in France and finally ending in the efficient and successful erection on site.
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Keywords: CNC; Timber structures; digital fabrication; digital workflow

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: designtoproduction GmbH Seestrasse 78, CH-8703 Erlenbach/Zurich, Email: [email protected] 2: Simonin SAS 3: designtoproduction GmbH

Publication date: August 20, 2015

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