Cactus Pavilion

Authors’ description:
The project is defined as a double-sided statement. On the one hand, it presents a real constructive experience regarding experimental lightweight Architecture. This experience involves in-depth research around Advanced Geometry, Digital Fabrication and ephemeral architecture applied to heritage, along the lines of low-cost construction and environmental concerns. On the other hand, the proposal advances in the exploration of adaptive envelopes, reactive materials, and the continuity of geometric development towards the use of quasi-developable and responsive surfaces in Architecture.

The Cactus Pavilion is a real wooden pavilion developed as roving interpretation centre of the Architectural & Natural Heritage Rescue Project of Santiago de Anaya, Mexico. The aim of this multidisciplinary project is the architectural and environmental rehabilitation of this area of Mexico, which focuses on the study and renovation of an archaeological site consisting of a group of derelict Augustinian chapels. The pavilion is a stand-alone architectural object that, by itself, strives to represent the values of the project and its connection with the landscape and the environment. The shape of a cactus was proposed as a biomimicry architectural form, inspired by an endemic species of this valley, Echinocactus plathyacanthus, and its ‘cristata’ forms. The installation uses natural materials and a sustainable manufacturing model, which has been developed as a lightweight construction, with an easy assembly process. Likewise, the architectural installation is innocuous where environmental protection is concerned, leaving no traces or residues in the placements. The pavilion was designed by employing CAD-CAM and parametric tools and was mechanized by using a common CNC milling machine. The installation is made of 3-mm-thick plywood strips that, once arranged, bent, and joined together with nylon cable ties, forms a self-supporting structure.

[Re]-React. The focus of this development goes far beyond the static idea of the Pavilion. The research explores new ways of environment-responsive Architecture. Instead of responsiveness strongly based on elaborate technical equipment, the dynamic of the form herein is based on the responsive capacity of the material itself. As a mimicry of the way in which several species of vegetation react by using dynamic adaptation, the movement of the strips in the Pavilion adjust according to hygroscopic and thermal regulation. Thermostasia and photostasia behaviour should be embedded into the capacities of the pavilion in order to establish a dialogue with its own environment since it is capable of reacting to external stimuli. Wood, as a natural material, changes its dimension in relation to the temperature and moisture content. Hence, a special joining design and the geometry of the strips that make up the form of the cactus, could provide it with autonomous movement in response to weather changes. At this point, we are aware that the geometric condition of the strips must be evolved from developable to quasi-developable surfaces. The project is an ambitious program for the creation of a biomimicry autonomous, simple-to-arrange and easy-to-replicate enclosure that would give an answer to the challenge of designing low-cost but highly responsive envelopes by using natural materials based on advanced geometric criteria.

Cactus Pavilion. Credits
Author: Andrés Martín-Pastor. University of Seville.
Collaborator: Francisco González-Quintial. University of the Basque Country.

Production Coordination
Alejandro Cabeza Pérez. UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
Rocío López De Juambelz. UNAM
Christhopher Contreras López. UNAM

Digital Manufacturing coordination
Industrial Design Research Center. UNAM
Enrique Ricalde. UNAM

Assembly Coordination
Rocío López de Juambelz. UNAM
Alejandro Cabeza Pérez. UNAM

Assembly team
Alma Susana Acevedo Arellano, Elizabeth Álvarez Santiago, Alba Belem Ávila Chan, Luis Enrique Barba Lozano, Santiago Cabeza López, Carlos Damián Calleja Rodriguez, Christhopher Contreras López, Ilse García Villalobos, Daniel Alejandro Guzmán Jaimes, Carlos Alberto Fajardo Cadena, Eunise Sarai Flores Lozano, Willebaldo Heredía García, Omar Hernández Peralta, Leslie Gallardo Villar, Brenda García Espinosa, Ariadna Deni Hernández Osorio, Eduardo Laguna Sánchez, Naftalí López Jiménez, Ángel Lucio Lozada, Uriel Rafael Pabello, Jessica Liliana Reyes Cortés, Pamela Suárez Romero, Ximena Márquez Muñoz, Saúl Muños Monares, Wilhelmina Murillo Hernández. Daniel Romero Téllez, Iván Said Sainz Arellano, Elyde Alejandra Santamaría Peralta, Fabiola Tadeo Sánchez.
External collaborators: Matilde Panascí, Alexandra Boboia.

National Autonomous University of Mexico
University of Seville, Spain
University of the Basque Country, Spain
Municipality of Santiago de Anaya, Hidalgo, México

Research Project: Architectural & Natural Heritage Rescue Project of Santiago de Anaya. Director: Rocío López de Juambelz
Master’s Program and Doctorate in Architecture. UNAM. Coordinator: Alejandro Cabeza Pérez
Laboratory of Conservation of the Natural and Cultural Heritage. UNAM
Industrial Design Research Center. UNAM

Photography: Carlos Contreras de Oteiza
School of Building Engineering, ETSIE, University of Seville; Department of Graphic Engineering, University of Seville; Higher Technical School of Architecture, Department of Architecture, University of the Basque Country; Fab Lab DONOSTIA; Vice-rectorate of Students, University of Seville; Investigation Group HUM976; Investigation Group ESMAARQ; Architecture and Construction Sciences University Institute. IUACC, University of Seville; Library of Architecture, University of Seville.

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