An easy to build structure brings advanced parametric design together with Kebony’s revolutionary EcoTimber
For the next 48 hours the busy plaza located in London’s Greenwich Peninsula by the O2 Arena (where the Olympic gymnastics were held this summer) will house the modular, geometrically sophisticated pavilion KREOD. Developed by Chun Qing Li of Pavilion Architecture, KREOD is a sturdy, secure, and weatherproof structure built as an exhibition space for London Design Festival. The three interchangeable pods that make up its body can be arranged in a variety of configurations for a number of purposes, from a temporary pavilion to an outdoor bike shed to free standing meeting pods or dining areas.
From the beginning, Li knew that he wanted to stretch weather resistant tensile fabric across the interior of a geometrically composed wooden structure. He chose Kebony, an exceptional timber product developed by the Norwegian company of the same name after two decades of research dedicated to creating a wood product with the same durability as tropical hardwood, but without contributing to the rampant deforestation plaguing tropical regions. Instead of resorting to the more common toxic impregnation techniques, the patented Kebonization process uses liquids from biowaste material to make sustainably grown timber harder and more durable. Kebony costs more, but it lasts three times as long as toxically treated wood, a major consideration for KREOD, which Li hopes will be used and repurposed many times over the course of its lifespan.
To perfect the parametric design of the pods, Li enlisted the help of the geometry consultancy Evolute, who abided by his ambition to avoid complicated CNC milling and stick to basic manufacturing techniques. Evolute developed a simple joint assembly to achieve a torsion-free hexagonal panel layout coordinated with a “circle-packing optimized triangular mesh” that lowered production costs. Li then consulted with the structural engineers at Ramboll, who made a breakthrough in the parametric design process with their development of a joint connection detail “strong enough to take the loads of the structure [yet] elegant and simple to manufacture at the same time.” Evolute then used this connection, which became KREOD’s “signature,” to code the generation of the full layout using their own EvoluteTools PRO and the RhinoScript interface.
The Kebony EcoTimber arrived in roughly 10 foot-long panels that were half a foot wide and ⅞ inch thick. To minimize waste, Li asked Evolute to “add the longest dimension to each component’s file name (i.e for component 777 the file name is M0777-329. M means member, 0777 is the component number, and 329 is the longest length of the component in mm). We then added 40mm extra (20mm on each end, about ⅞ inch) for fabrication.” The Kebony trimmings and damaged materials were used as biomass for the CHP (Combined Heat and Power) machine to generate heat, hot water, and electricity in an energy saving process that wouldn’t have been possible had Li used a cheaper, toxically treated wood.
The resulting three pods are made of about 1,000 pieces of EcoTimber each, which are flat-packed and arrive ready to construct “like IKEA furniture,” Li said. The pods were developed as the first product available for purchase from Pavilion Architecture. To emphasize just how easy they are to build, Li said the “construction team were students [with] no experience, and a third of the team were female,” meaning that even schoolgirls can build them in just one week. Once the pods are taken down after the weekend, Li plans to sell them to offset the considerable investment he made researching and developing the project. Brand new KREOD pods are also available for purchase.