The Vaulted Cork Pavillion was built for Amorim Isolamentos Lda., to demonstrate its cork building materials at Concreta 2013, a biennial building fair held at Exponor, Porto.
This architecture and research project was developed by Pedro de Azambuja Varela, Maria João de Oliveira and Emmanuel Novo, who were sponsored by Amorim Isolamentos Lda. while studying in the Digital Architecture Advanced Studies Course (CEAAD), a joint venture between ISCTE-IULisboa and FAUPorto. All the fabrication was carried out at VFABLAB-IUL, and the coordination was carried out by Professors Alexandra Paio and José Pedro Sousa.
This construction started out as challenge to materialize concepts and investigation developed within CEAAD 2012/2013, all related with expanded cork agglomerate. These concepts are: the possibility to span vaults with cork alone, a compound translucent cork material, and a system for radiation and acoustic optimization. All these concepts ought to be shown within the pavillion in a symbiotic relation formalized by the continuous and metamorphic shape.
Architectonic space lies within an inter-relation between inner and outer space, promoting dynamic fluxes and circulation all around the construction. The outside provides circulation and rest areas, where people can relax in benches or wavy forms. The inside is a tunnel like space that has a continuous bench and an exhibition space, where people can find shelter from the trade fair harsh noise and lights. All this was formalized as a shape that grows from the floor creating a smooth transition between the floor and vaulted roof.
Cork characteristics were a main driving force to the space conception. The floor and walls are smooth and soft, and the smell is very particular. Inside the space one has the feeling of being inside another environment, such is the effect of changing light, sound, smell and touch. The grass in the exterior - showing the possibility of using cork on living roofs - creates a symbiosis of living plants and cork bark.
After a starting phase of brainstorming, an algorithm was created to test different variations of the form in a parametric level, with many variables responsible for curvatures and dimensions. Once the shape was agreed upon, another algorithm was crafted to automatically create the geometry of the hundreds of unique blocks that were to be CNC cut at the VFABLAB.
All the blocks were labelled with a meaningful system, easing the work of the Amorim Isolamentos Lda. team while assembling the various pieces.