FlexMaps Pavilion at Palazzo Gambacorti

FlexMaps Pavilion esposta a Palazzo Gambacorti
FlexMaps Pavilion esposta a Palazzo Gambacorti
Palazzo Gambacorti
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In February, the Visual Computing Lab of ISTI - CNR will exhibit the FlexMaps Pavilion, an installation that combines technological innovation and artistic creativity in a totally new way in the atrium of Palazzo Gambacorti, the seat of the Municipality of Pisa.

The FlexMaps Pavilion is a bending-active wooden structure obtained through a revolutionary computational design technique developed at the CNR that has led to numerous publications and was exhibited in 2021 at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale as part of the Italian Pavilion, curated by Alessandro Melis.

The structure, designed at the CNR's Institute of Information Science and Technology (Cnr-Isti), shows how geometry processing can create synergies between different disciplines such as architecture, structural design and digital fabrication. The shape and details of the structure are in fact the product of an automatic geometric/mathematical optimisation process developed in the Visual Computing Laboratory directed by Paolo Cignoni. The components of the architectural-artistic installation are made by milling plywood panels with spiral structures using numerically controlled machines, which allow the flexibility of the panels to be precisely controlled. The spirals on the panels are not all the same, but their shape is determined by a computational design algorithm that optimises the geometry of each spiral. Once folded and assembled, the set of panels results in a structure with the desired shape. In particular, it is the specific distribution of stresses within the spirals that allows the structure to reproduce a specific shape. The basic method by which the FlexMaps Pavilion was created was initially designed to reproduce small-scale objects using 3D printed panels, and was tested on a variety of shapes.

The creation of a wooden pavilion demonstrates that the same methodology can be used for applications on an architectural scale. This method can be used for innovative architectural solutions such as roofs and façades of various shapes, or in general to create complex-shaped three-dimensional objects in an economical way as they consist only of flat elements.