The pavilion was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in collaboration with Bollinger + Grohmann for the China International Architectural Biennial. It reinterprets Felix Candela’s works with complementary hypar shells, which are both highly structural and sculptural. As a concept contrasting the originals, the optimal structural logic was partially broken by linking the three parts in the middles of their surfaces, not at the edges. The introduced disturbance is expressed and accounted by the grid-shell pattern as a secondary tectonic logic.
Modern digital tools allowed the quick iteration of many design alternatives to optimize both aesthetics and structural efficiency. Parametric Finite Element analysis with Karamba was used both as a design tool and to check the pavilion’s integrity according to the codes. A tight workflow between engineer and architect emerged by a direct interface established on a data-data level, facilitating the development of concept, shape, pattern, and details within a few weeks.
The shape was modeled and optimized as a shell, using multi-objective evolutionary algorithms as an aid for decision making. The grid-shell pattern was derived from trajectories following the principal stresses under gravity, which help to eliminate shear forces. The remaining internal stresses were translated into a multilayer system of pipes which are differentiating the grid-shell’s thickness, articulating and coping with irregularities imposed by additional external loads.