Swiss-ster Stixx

ETH Zurich Campus
Zurich, Switzerland
2011

The competition brief called for the design of a pavilion, located on the campus of ETH Science City, which would serve as an outdoor seating area and utilize the material properties of wood.  In addition to understanding the characteristics of wood, an understanding of the pavilion's fabrication process and structural integrity was necessary. 
Swiss-ster StiX is an algorithm based exploration of space-making phenomena utilising prosaic modular components aggregated via repetitive affine transformations. The degree of transformation (copy, scale, rotate) of each component is modified as the algorithm runs, based on an embedded overall ‘body plan.’
The body plan serves to regulate rate and direction of growth at key points in the system to create functional differentiation of the various parts to the whole. For example, accelerating the rate of change in the rotation angle induces a more horizontal growth resulting in what could be a walkable surface or overhead shelter. Likewise, scaling the length of components regulates the structures’ density and resulting degree of permeability and privacy.
Standard off-the-shelf wooden timbers were chosen as the base unit and many experiments were run with different starting points, transformation sets, and input parameters. Program and basic anthropomorphic data informed the body plan which would trigger changes in the transformation values. Ultimately, three foundation points were chosen as well as values for transformation parameters.
Initial growth from the three start points is directed primarily vertically and rotationally around a primary spatial volume. At a certain height, growth from the independent parts begins to interweave and connect into a shade canopy. Structurally, the resulting form works as a hybrid; a shell which dissolves into three curving ‘columns’. Individual timbers are connected via hidden pins so no connections are visible.
Manipulation of light and shade was achieved via the structures porosity. Framing of views and degrees of public and private resulted from the overall growth direction and deposition of material. Dynamic lighting effects are created by lengths of cantilevered timbers which are allowed to bend and sway under wind loads. Working within our self-imposed constraints, we were able to generate an installation which provides for varying spatial experiences employing only simple rules and the repeated addition of a standard unit.

project team:
Andy VanMater
, Darrick Borowski, 
Ivan Ucros Polley, 
Jens Pedersen, 
Maria Tiliakos, 
Nicolás Villegas Giorgi