Along a winding path, we walk off the road to a picturesque traditional water town, Wuzhen. Jiangnan, the regions south of the Yangtze River, remains unchanged as the traditional water town, would better be the stage of the lifestyle, rather than the memories of the past water regions.
If Wuzhen Internet Conference is an expression in surrealism style endowed by this era to regions south of the Yangtze River (Jiangnan), we could say then, the new building space is defined as a stage for new activities in post-humanism. However, internet and digitalization have not only changed the lifestyle of metropolis, but also redefined Jiangnan.
Until 2018, Wuzhen has successfully hosted five World Internet Conferences. Complex space in the scale of Hyper object is becoming the new typology, and they emerge not only in the megacities, but also gradually in water towns. What behind is the new hyper scale generated by online and offline trades and communication of internet economy.
It is adjacent to the Wuzhen Xizha ancient building complex. In the process of regional urbanization development, buildings from the historical and modern district are intertwined.The use of land resources is relatively loose, showing complex diversity.
The site is located in the northwest corner of the heart of Wuzhen. The entire site is surrounded by farm houses, tourism projects and the first stage project of the exhibition pavilion area. The layout of the new venues needs to consider the continuity of the space and functions of the existing venues. As the core area of the summit, it also needs to consider the possibility that the entire area will be led by the world’s leading Internet technology publishing activities, and the possibility of the future development of intelligent and modern conference and exhibition facilities.
In order to meet the functional requirements of the the Wolrd Internet Conference and future diversified operation requirements; the pavilion is divided into four exhibition halls from south to north. The space can be used separated or merged, so it is possible to be used in series at large exhibitions or it can be opened in parallel to accommodate various activities. Considering the space experience and applicability of the space of the independent exhibition hall, each section of the exhibition halls is high in the center and low along the edge. The string beams are placed in the middle of the exhibition hall to form the big open space for the special function requirement. At the same time, there are openings at the top to introduce the skylight to improve the space quality.
There are many successful roof examples that use gravity to create catenary roof structures. In terms of structural economy, suspended roofs with suspension cables or steel strips require lower amount of steel, but the construction control and the detail design of the flexible systems are relatively complicated.
In between the main string beams, we creatively proposed to use “cantilever beam” to make the connection. This structural prototype is derived from the suspension structure. Different from the conventional suspension structure, through putting tension on the steel to get the maximal mechanical property, it saved a lot of time from the form finding process of the cable. We replaced the steel cable with I-beam to realize the complicated form. 230 catenary beams are unified into the circular segments with the same radius to greatly reduce fabrication difficulties and reduce the chance of machine errors.
The ridge string beam & inter-frame catenary beam composite structure has the ability to form a column-free 90 meters by 200 meters space. This is the original design, but in the later stages of the design process, the whole space is divided into four groups of juxtaposed exhibition spaces due to the use of the functional adjustments. After a comprehensive comparison of the cost, effect and construction convenience with portal steel frame, the catenary system is chose because it showed enough advantages.
In order to achieve rapid construction of the entire pavilion, the dynamic modular system and the logic of the full prefabrication are applied to the overall skin construction of the entire pavilion project. The prefabricated upper building structure itself used 8 herringbone columns, 4 string beams, 2 arc beams at the edge, and 230 catenary beams. It is gradually break into mathematical logic corresponding to the rationalized structural members.
The 20000-square-meter roof consists of 700,000 tiles. Therefore it is merely impossible to construct everything on site. The design uses prefabrication shift from traditional tile work into prefabricated installation unit. Every 18 tiles are combined into one installation unit and then installed onto the roof within only 5 minutes.
On the East Side of the Venue, a public park with 4 pavilions is designed to complete the overall landscape. Whether it is the traditional water town or traditional garden, walking within gardens poses landscapes an existential attitude towards human beings and nature.
The integration of spiritual essence and the construction culture is the key point of creation. The Internet and digitalization are permeating the various details of our lives. Architecture as a long-lasting discipline has a constant spatial experience and artistic atmosphere, but the digitalization process of the construction technology itself is profoundly affecting the innovation of the architectural paradigm. The understanding of this paradigm should not only stay on the category of formalism, but further on material construction and intelligent construction technology which are changing the form creation, process and architectural aesthetic creation and experience of architecture.
Water Pavilion, Moon Pavilion, Red Pavilion and Cloud Pavilion, the four exhibition halls jointly built not only a poet, but more importantly, the application scene of the experimental building robot was built to form the largest experimental robot project group in the world. For each pavilion design, while thinking about the artistic conception of the environment, they respectively play the specific process content of the experimental production of architectural robots.
The Water Pavilion locates on the east side of the main Conference Center in Wuzhen. Taking traditional red bricks as the fundamental material and utilizing the innovative robotic manufacturing process, Water Pavilion serves as a multi-function tourist’s service station within the expo park. The result of highly-curved and multi-textured brick façade calls back to the key element “water” at Wuzhen.
The interlaced sense of curved walls separates and re organizes the site, experimenting a new way of spatial organization. The brick walls take “water” as the inspirational element and create a rhythmic texture through parametric form-finding. Performance simulation is introduced to the later design development stage of the walls to optimize the structural rationality of such texture. According to the privacy requirements of the space, a series of rust steel modular unit work collaboratively with the walls to accommodate various functions such as retail kiosk, information center, resting station and toilets, resulting as both visual embellishment and expansion of the site.
In-situ brick masonry robots prefabricates all wall components and is able to realize the completion in just one-week time, while realizing the precise curvature of the wall design.
The 52 sqm Water Pavilion sits on a site with a total area of 190 sqm. Fab-Union Technology is able to monitor the quality of mortar application during the entire masonry process and realizes an effective closed-loop control of construction quality. After prefabrication on site, all the wall components can be directly hoisted, which constitutes an integrated construction process based on the prefabrication of the construction site.
The outline of the Moon Pavilion is generated by three circles that are tangent to each other. When the door is open, it posts a welcoming gesture to the wider site. The double Moon Door is further decorated with a number of display cabinets for conference souvenirs, symbolizing the poetic “waxing moon”. When the doors are closed, the seats under the eave carry the function of public resting to allow the visitors to stay for a “waning moon”. The similarities and differences between the two scenarios of adopting the pavilion reflect on its strong publicity.
The fabrication and construction of the Moon Pavilion employs Robotic Timber Construction Technology for precise processing of all geometric components. Polycarbonate sheets are used for roof cladding to allow for natural sunlight, which is further filtered the softened by the sheets’ texture. The roof structure of the pavilion is a radial steel structure, and is supplemented with LED strip lights. During nighttime, the artificial light diffuses out through polycarbonate roof, casting a crystal clear glare around the pavilion, mimicking the moon on the ground.
The 98-square-metre pavilion sits on a 239-square-metre site, with its entire construction process being achieved through digital simulation. Each component is numbered and pre-fabricated for quick assembly on site and is also designed for recycle and demountability to achieve sustainability.
As the most important landscape focal point as well as the theme building for the Intelligent Construction Park for the “Light of the Internet” Expo Center, the design of Red Pavilion finds its inspiration from the wavy terrain of the main conference venue. Traditional Red Brick are used throughout the construction of Red Pavilion, which follows the brick tradition in Wuzhen but also immediately sets out the difference from its surrounded blue brick buildings. The outline of the shell generated through parametric tools takes the meaning of “rainbow” to match the undulated roof form of the main venue, and at the same time, calls on the theme of digital interconnection of the conference.
Red Pavilion has a building area of 273 square meters. The design of Red Pavilion starts from the traditional form-finding of brick structure, and is further optimized through advanced digital algorithm design to generate a ultra-thin structure under pure compression. The pavilion is 40 meters in span and 9.2 meters in height with an overall structural thickness of only 0.15 meters.
In response to the issue of slow speed and significant amount of material wasted caused by conventional use of formwork during construction, the pavilion takes advantage of addictive manufacturing. Complex structural geometry is broken down into structural scaffolds units that can be pre-fabricated using robotic 3D printing and bend in-place on site. Recyclable modified plastic is used for 3D printing to maximize the sustainable use of building materials.
Cloud Pavilion, made out of 3D printed plastic components expands for 20 meters long and 15 meters wide while standing for a height of 6 meters. It is divided into three spatial volumes internally, including an indoor cafe and two semi-open platforms, forming three separate but connected umbrella structures.
Cloud Pavilion has a total construction area of 139 square meters and and is prefabricated in two weeks by four Robots. During assembly, robotic positioning technology to accurately detect and guide the in-situ work for non-standard printing units. Cloud Pavilion combines structural performance analysis technology with printing optimization process, combining prefabricated production and on-site assembly to experiment a material-based “digital twinning” intelligent construction method
“Mind Travelling with Floating Views & Four Pavilions and Four Perspectives” is our humanistic attitude towards the traditional water town; “Man-Machine Collaboration & Poetic Generation” is the experiment and practice of integrating the whole project into the digital age.
Architects: Archi-Union Architects, Fab-Union
Design and Digital Fabrication(Pavilions)
Fab-Union Architectural Technology and Digital Fabrication Co., Ltd
Philip F. Yuan
Digital Construction Manager
Project Architects (Exhibition Halls)
Pre-Research for Red Pavilion(Pavilions)
Philippe Block, Philip F. Yuan, Xiang Wang, Kam-Ming Mark Tam, Gene Ting-Chun Kao, Zain Karsan, Dalma Foldesi, Hyerin Lee, Jung In Seo, Anna Vasileiou, Youyuan Luo, Chun Pong So, Xiao Zhang, Liming Zhang, Hua Chai
Architecture Design Team(Pavilions)
Xiang Wang, Youyuan Luo, Weizhe Gao, Li Han, Xiangping Kong, Chun Pong So, Xiao Zhang, Gyeongdal Park, Yuying Li, Yating Wang
Interior Design Team(Pavilions)
Luwen Liu, Ju Wang, Jingyan Tang, Mengmeng Cui, Yuanyuan Li
Tao Huang, Rui Wang, Zhun Zhang(Exhibition Halls)
Dawei Wei, Jiandong Chen, Yong Wang, Qing Zhang
Liming Zhang, Zhewen Chen, Yifan Zhou, Xuwei Wang, Yong Peng, Bin Jiang
Innovative Urban Green
Architecture Design Team(Exhibition Halls)
Xiangping Kong, Jinyu Huang, Huajian Gu, Hao Chen, Haobo Zhang, Yuying Li, Yu Lou, Xi Tao, Jinxi Jin
Interior (Exhibition Halls)
Fuzi He, Ju Wang, Yifei Wang, Tuomeng Wang, Luwen Liu, Jingyan Tang, Mengmeng Cui, Haiyan Jiang
MEP (Exhibition Halls)
Yong Wang, Dawei Wei, Qing Zhang, Zhengwen Chen, Xiao Yu, Jiandong Chen
Landscape (Exhibition Halls)
Nannan Dong, Weixuan Wei, Jun Ye
Lighting (Exhibition Halls)
Guojian Hu, Hongbo Qiang, Zhenjiang Wang, Xiaohua Wu, Tingting Ge
Signage System (Exhibition Halls)
VENP Brand Design
Digital Fabrication(Exhibition Halls)
Fab-Union Architectural Technology and Digital Fabrication Co., Ltd
Façade Consultant (Exhibition Halls)
Zhejiang Provincial Wulin Construction Group Co., Ltd.
Green Building Consultant (Exhibition Halls)
Shanghai ShunGu Architecture Engineering Technology Co.,Ltd
Land Surveyor (Exhibition Halls)
Zhejiang Earth Geotechnical Investigation & Design Institute Co., Ltd
Building Surveyor (Exhibition Halls)
Zhejiang Engineering Construction Manage Company
Contractor (Exhibition Halls)
Yadu Construction Group
Article courtesy of architects