Ramboll were delighted to be appointed as engineers for the Vanke Pavilion, which will be the centrepiece at the 2015 Milan Expo which expects over 20 million visitors. With an area of 1,000 square metres, the Vanke Pavilion will be located just north of the main Expo axis, near the Lake Arena and Piazza Italia. The pavilion is the first structure to be built on site and topped out in late September.
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The Pavilion was designed by architects Studio Daniel Libeskind for the Chinese residential real estate giant, Vanke. Ramboll teams from Italy and the UK teamed together to work on this ambitious structure.
One of the core challenges faced by Ramboll’s Computational Design (RCD) team was to deliver a structural solution that simplified the construction process without compromising the design of the uniquely shaped building. With an almost cork-screw like shape and a façade composed of hundreds of ceramic tiles, the project had the potential to be both high-cost and lengthy.
In order to rationalise construction of the steel frame structure, the team developed an approach which used parametric modelling and coding techniques to digitally slice and analyse the pavilions structural design. Taking their inspiration from ship-building techniques, the RCD experts identified 25 unique structural shapes required to construct the building, allowing them to deliver a rational material response to an irregular structure.
Once structural complexities were addressed, the next big challenge was providing panelling geometry for the building’s façade. The surface required hundreds of ceramic tiles in different shapes and sizes, covering the unique structural shape, which would have been a substantial and complex bespoke job. In response to this, the RCD team coders in the UK evaluated the surface using a unique computer program that digitally rationalised the façade surface. The complex tile pattern was thus optimised to achieve a 95% uniformity in the tile shape and returned to Ramboll’s team in Italy to complete the remaining codes, details and structural design.
The corporate pavilion will be three to four storeys tall, containing a bamboo structure and Chinese artworks that explore the Milan Expo theme of ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. Post Expo the pavilion will be dismantled and rebuilt in China, again echoing the sustainability theme of the Italian exposition.
The project showcases Ramboll’s leading position in the use of digital tools and techniques for built environment projects. The Computational Design team were key to realising the desired structure through their combination of research, geometry, architecture, engineering and in-depth mathematical skills. As a confluence between high-tech skills and creative structural design, the joint future of coding and engineering is ripe with opportunity.