Active Vault 

Our pavilion’s inspiration derives from natural structures which can be found on pine cones and reptile skin. Composed out of triangular folded units which are being stuck together with an overlap, the components are forming an active vault-like, shell structure. Our main aim was to achieve the largest possible span, by consuming the least possible material and fabrication time. This became possible after multiple phases of optimisation of component sizes and stacking angle. The final prototype consists of 213 units, having consumed only 100 1000×600 cardboard boards significantly less than the maximum material available for every team. Our active vault structure could offer various types of shelter and shading in a future digital city.

Mentor: Asterios Agkathidis

Students: Shuyan Bai, Shuhui Li,  Qiaoyang Zhang + Li Li, Yijia Li, Shanshan Wang, Jingbo Zhu



A digital city portrays a future where nature is embraced from an artificial perspective. The notion of adaptation was the primary natural phenomenon that which operated as our design driver. We designed and developed a single module (20x20x20cm) which expands and collapses accordingly to forces applied to it. Based on different arrangements, the modules can fold and ‘Bloom’ forming different shapes as clusters, creating a large variety of formal constellations.

The modules are assembled using velcro tape to form a variable surface, which suspends from the ceiling. Natural or artificial lighting shining from above will filter through it creating a large variety of shadows.  The use of velcro tape allows the visitors o decompose and recompose the ‘Bloom’  pavilion according to their needs. As people interact with it, its shape and spatial configuration changes, determined by the transformability boundaries of each unit similar to the blooming flowers in nature. Visitors are invited to interact and reconfigure the pavilion during the exhibition, bringing its geometry into a constant change. Bloom was awarded the Hawthorn Prize for the most impressive pavilion!

Mentor: Asterios Agkathidis

Students: Xueqi Chen, Siqi Kong, Jiangyang Zhao + Satvik Ambre, Mohamad Al-Suwaidi, Roberto Cruz Juarez, Fabio Garcia da Silva, Siyu Lin



About a3lab

Born in Thessaloniki, Greece. Asterios Agkathidis studied architecture in Thessaloniki and the RWTH Aachen, completing his postgraduate studies in Advanced Architectural Design at the Staedelschule, Frankfurt in 2001. He became a partner in the architectural practice b&k+ in Cologne until 2004, then at VMX architects, Amsterdam until 2005. He later founded the architecture and research laboratory a3lab Frankfurt-Thessaloniki. His work has been published and exhibited widely. Teaching and lecturing experiences include AdBK Nuremberg, TU Darmstadt, University of Thessaloniki, the Islamic University Malaysia, the Columbia University and the Städelschule Architecture Class. He was visiting assistant professor in the Lebanese American University and Senior Lecturer at Raffles Design Institute Shanghai. Today he holds a lectureship for digital architecture at the University of Liverpool.

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