dalian zoo pavilion

Year: 2012 - 2013
Size: 5,000 m2
Type: cultural
Status: completed
Location: Dalian, Liaoning, China
Client: Dalian Zoo

Partners in charge: Federico Ruberto, Nicola Saladino
Design team: Dong Liu

External collaborator: Dalian UD Institute

The Circus Pavilion for Dalian Zoo is the result of a collaboration between reMIX studio and Dalian UD Institute.
Our main tasks included:
- the geometric definition of the external and internal membrane
- the optimization of the roof structure
- the design of the access points
- the modeling of the adjacent topography

The institute decided the location of the pavilion within the park and the general interior layout. We were given a simple 3d model of the maximum envelope and were asked to propose an integral solution for the skin and the envelope structure. We believe in the possibility of combining a performative parametric approach and an intentional "handcrafted" design. Thus we explored a hybrid dialectics, in which the endless generative capacity of an algorithm, with its otherwise hardly achievable geometric precision, and the singularity of some punctual design moves, that can strongly influence the spatial quality and personal experience of the building, become a seamless dynamic assemblage.

Through a process of phylogenesis*, we studied different geometrical systems: initial basic patterns were expanded three-dimensionally and tested in their structural performance. The physical possibilities of our intervention relied in the combination of an optimized and yet dynamic structure and the implicit material properties of the membrane.

Through a constant feedback loop between geometric expressivity and structural performance, cost and construction-related evaluations we pre-selected two prototypes: the first one relied only on planar surfaces, the second on double curvature faces. We finally opted for the latter, as it allowed us to exploit the intrinsic elasticity of the membrane, through the control of its stress thresholds, and generate multiple relationships with the structure through different elements of compression and traction.

Finally, we designed also an internal membrane that provides thermal insulation and allows the complete enclosure of the pavilion. The relationship between the two textile layers is not fully linear as the interior skin detaches from the roof structure to mediate with the geometry of the perimetral walls and the stage, creating interesting dynamic effects.

* Phylogenesis defines the analytical study of the properties of an element within a series, its substantial characteristics, its constant traits and anomalies: in sum, it defines the material performances and the physical morphological and behavioral limits of a certain population in an evolutionary logic.