Conference Paper: Peer Reviewed

Indeterminacy in designing large-scale bending-active bamboo grid-shells – a Hong Kong case study

by Crolla K. and Ip Tsz Man V.

ABSTRACT | This paper discusses Hong Kong’s 2015 ‘ZCB Bamboo Pavilion’ as a methodological case study for the design and construction of lightweight, bending-active, bamboo gridshells using digital simulation and physical prototyping. It covers the form-finding methods, physics simulation engines, and methods for construction documentation that were developed in response to the volatile nature of bamboo.
The ‘ZCB Bamboo Pavilion’ is a twelve-meter-tall public event space that spans thirty seven metres. It is built from bamboo poles, manually bent onsite, hand-tied with metal wire, and covered with a composite tension membrane. The project’s design and implementation pivot around formulating strategies for dealing with onsite imperfections and setting-up of protocols concerning unavoidable error.
The paper starts by addressing the design sequence for form-finding the bending-active structure. This sequence combines digital physics simulations with testing through physical model making. It then discusses the construction sequence which was iteratively developed through simulation and physical prototyping. It continues by analysing the construction documentation methods and notation systems set up for implementation of structure and skin without traditional architectural drawings.
The paper concludes by discussing the necessity for digital architecture to proactively operate within the field of real-world indeterminacy, highlighting applied design priorities, assumptions, risks, and probabilities.

KEYWORDS | Bamboo; Bending-Active Gridshell; Physics Simulation; Form-Finding; Indeterminacy

CITATION | Crolla, Kristof, and Ip Tsz Man Vincent. “Indeterminacy in designing large-scale bending-active bamboo grid-shells – a Hong Kong case study”, Proceedings of 7th annual Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design (SimAUD), London, 2016, pp. 257- 264