The Armadillo Vault was the centrepiece of the "Beyond Bending" exhibtion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Alejandro Aravena, which was held in Venice, Italy, from May 28 to November 27, 2016.
The engineering of the discrete shell used innovative computational approaches to assess stability under various load conditions. Each stone voussoir is informed by structural logic, by the need for precise fabrication and assembly, by the constraints of a historically protected setting, and by limitations on time, budget, and construction. The voussoirs are designed to be planar on the exterior to avoid the need to flip the stones during machining. Their interior sides’ doubly curved geometry was obtained through rough cutting. Rather than milling away the excess material left by this process, it was instead hammered off, leaving the resulting grooves as an expressive feature.
The shell’s dual appearance, scale-like on the outside and softly curving on the inside, is thus a direct materialisation of the project’s hard constraints. Standing without reinforcement, proportionally as thin as an egg shell, the expressively flowing surface structure challenges the idea that complex, freeform geometry need go hand-in-hand with inefficient and untruthful use of material.
Check out how we designed, fabricated and installed the crazy stone vault!
Now that the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale closed its doors, walk under and through the Armadillo Vault virtually!
Structural design & Architectural geometry
- Block Research Group, ETH Zurich - Philippe Block, Tom Van Mele, Matthias Rippmann, Edyta Augustynowicz, Cristián Calvo Barentin, Tomás Méndez Echenagucia, Mariana Popescu, Andrew Liew, Anna Maragkoudaki, Ursula Frick
- Ochsendorf DeJong & Block (ODB Engineering) - Matthew DeJong, John Ochsendorf, Philippe Block, Anjali Mehrotra
Fabrication & Construction
- Escobedo Group - David Escobedo, Matthew Escobedo, Salvador Crisanto, John Curry, Francisco Tovar Yebra, Joyce I-Chin Chen, Adam Bath, Hector Betancourt, Luis Rivera, Antonio Rivera, Carlos Rivera, Carlos Zuniga Rivera, Samuel Rivera, Jairo Rivera, Humberto Rivera, Jesus Rosales, Dario Rivera