Getting Back to Basics : Clay Pavilion

There is an incredible amount of innovative materials available now. When selecting a material for our pavilion, we wanted to first understand the essence of what a pavilion is. We developed an agreement that pavilions are created from one material with the aid of supports if needed. We also reached the conclusion that the design of the pavilion should be used to challenge the material that is chosen. To challenge a material, we were interested in understanding the material, its properties and capabilities, and finding a way to push the material past its limits. We kept these ideas in mind while choosing our top three and then final material through the assignment.

We started by keeping open minds to all materials each member brought. We had a variety of natural materials, man-made materials, and a few materials that were extremely innovative due to technology. We debated in the group about how each material would work and could be pushed to create a unique pavilion. We then selected our top three materials of Thermo Bi-Metal, Clay, and LED Soft Wall. We created sketches for possible pavilion designs with each material and created lists of pros and cons of each material.

The Thermo Bi-Metal was a really interesting material but we felt it was such an interesting material on its own and it is so innovative, there wasn’t really a lot of possibility to really push the limits of the material to create an interesting structure. LED Soft Wall was the runner-up material. This modular shape had a lot of potential and could create a variety of different shapes. What ultimately made us choose against this idea was because since the wall is made of a fiber, we thought it would not hold up to the rainy London weather. We then decided that the best option would be clay.

What we really liked about clay was that it was a natural material and the cost of creating it economically would be low as well as its impact on the environment would be very low as well. The pros of using clay as a material fit better then the pros of the other materials in terms of what we were looking for in creating a pavilion. Choosing clay helped the pavilion to be seen as a natural escape from the urban concrete found surrounding the site. Using a clay that was found locally in England was also important to our decision. Clay was easy to make with less impact compared to the other materials which required a lot of processes to create. We also thought about the life cycle of each material. The other materials, Bi-Metal and LED Softwall were not easy to break down. It is important to think about the complete cycle of the material especially for pavilion design since it is temporary. We wanted to find something that could easily be broken down, recycled or repurposed. The two materials besides clay did not satisfy any of these requirements which is another reason why we ultimately chose clay.

When choosing a material, we wanted something that was a challenge and we knew we could push to its limits. We wanted the inhabitant to see this familiar material in a defamiliarized context. Our idea of a pavilion was to challenge the viewers mind and really make them question the properties and limits of the material they were experiencing. We found an interesting type of clay in the form of brick with holes hollowed through it. This creates a very light and illusion feeling. We also found that sometimes LED lights are placed within the bricks giving them an illumination that would create a great filtered effect at night. We are very happy with the way we were able to successfully push clay to its limits creating a curvaceous and light feeling pavilion.



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