Mendrisio Pavilion


Location: Mendrisio, Switzerland

Architect: Yves Weinand Architectes sàrl, Lausanne

Timber Engineering: Bureau d’Etudes Weinand, Liège (BE)

Technology Transfer: Laboratory for Timber Construction, IBOIS, EPFL, Prof. Yves Weinand, Chritopher Robeller, Sina Nabaei

Date: 2013


Pavilion in Mendrisio, Timber Project : Innovative Timber Construction

The “Timber Project” exhibit presented current research in wood construction, where interdisciplinarity – in this case between civil engineering, architecture, mathematics, computer sciences- provides a breath of fresh air and a surge of new inspiration. This research, whose timing coincides with current environmental and ecological concerns, is leading to innovative construction solutions that can be efficiently built and are economically viable – a new architecture of wood. A true high tech material, wood fuses like metal; it was bent and pleated, braided with suppleness and curved gently into ribbed shells in the expert hands of EPFL’s Timber Construction Laboratory, IBOIS.

Curved Folded Wood Pavilion : a thin shell structure made from CLT

The Timber Project exhibition was in conjunction with the inauguration of the new pavilion built for the occasion in the University gardens. The prototype entirely designed and sized by experts of IBOIS, was a shell-shaped structure, composed of curved panels of cross-laminated timber. Thanks to its particular folded shape, the lightweight construction spanned over 13.5m with a uniform thickness of only 77mm.

The essential aspect of this new pavilion, other than its curved folded form resistance, was the innovative design of the connection between curved panels. The so-called “dovetail” joints, permited to realise the connection between two curved timber panels without using the classical steel connector plates. The connection geometry was determined by that of the intersecting curved surfaces and is generated by a numerical tool developed at IBOIS-EPFL. The precision, strength and efficiency of the joints, prefabricated with the use of 7-axis CNC cutting robots, were decisive for the performance and appearance of the structure.


Project Poster
Robeller C., Nabaei S.S., Weinand Y. (2014) Design and Fabrication of Robot-Manufactured Joints for a Curved-Folded Thin-Shell Structure Made from CLT. In: McGee W., Ponce de Leon M. (eds) Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design 2014. Springer, Cham