BUGA Wood Pavilion

Building Demonstrator


Source: Vimeo


Bundesgartenschau, Heilbronn, 2019

The BUGA Wood Pavilion celebrates a new approach to digital timber construction. Its segmented wood shell is based on biological principles found in the plate skeleton of sea urchins, which have been studied by the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart for almost a decade. As part of the project, a robotic manufacturing platform was developed for the automated assembly and milling of the pavilion’s 376 bespoke hollow wood segments. This fabrication process ensures that all segments fit together with sub-millimetre precision like a big, three-dimensional puzzle. The stunning wooden roof spans 30 metres over one of BUGA’s main event and concert venues, using a minimum amount of material while also generating a unique architectural space.


The BUGA Wood Pavilion provides an architectural attraction at the central summer island of the Bundesgartenschau 2019 in Heilbronn. The design of the pavilion is based on morphological principles of the plate skeleton of sea urchins. Following the precursor research building of the same project team, the LAGA Exhibition Hall in Schwaebisch Gmuend, the research goal of the BUGA Wood Pavilion is pushing the architectural articulation and structural performance of biomimetic segmented wood shells onto a new level: With the same small amount of wood per square metre as in the LAGA project, is it possible to build a shell that reaches triple the span? And can this structure remain fully reusable, so that it can be deployed on a different site after the BUGA without any loss of performance? To achieve this goal, the pavilion builds on the biomimetic principle of using “less material” by having “more form”, both on the level of the overall shell and its individual segments. In order to minimise material consumption and weight, each wood segment is built up from two thin plates that plank a ring of edge-beams on top and bottom, forming large scale hollow wooden cases with polygonal forms. The bottom plate includes a large opening, which constitutes a distinctive architectural feature and provides access to the hidden connections during assembly. The lightweight building elements are connected by finger joints, which follow the morphological principles of anatomic features found on the edge of sea urchins’ plates. In the assembled state, the shell works as a form-active structure through its expressive doubly-curved geometry.



  1. 2020

    1. Hartmann, V. N., Oguz, O. S., Driess, D., Toussaint, M., & Menges, A. (2020). Robust Task and Motion Planning for Long-Horizon Architectural Construction Planning. Proc. of the IEEE Int. Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).
    2. Wagner, H. J., Alvarez, M., Groenewolt, A., & Menges, A. (2020). Towards digital automation flexibility in large-scale timber construction: integrative robotic prefabrication and co-design of the BUGA Wood Pavilion. Construction Robotics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41693-020-00038-5
    3. Wagner, H. J., Alvarez, M., Kyjanek, O., Bhiri, Z., Buck, M., & Menges, A. (2020). Flexible and transportable robotic timber construction platform – TIM. Automation in Construction, 120, Article 120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2020.103400
  2. 2019

    1. Alvarez, M., Wagner, H. J., Groenewolt, A., Krieg, O., Kyjanek, O., Aldinger, L., Bechert, S., Sonntag, D., Menges, A., & Knippers, J. (2019). The buga wood pavilion - Integrative interdisciplinary advancements of digital timber architecture. ACADIA - Ubiquity and Autonomy Proceedings of the ACADIA Conference 2019, 490--499. https://doi.org/10.52842/conf.acadia.2019.490


  1. 2020

    1. Kyjanek, O., Krieg, O. D., Schwinn, T., & Menges, A. (2020). Mensch-Roboter-Kooperation im Holzbau: Potentiale für die Vorfertigung. Abschlussbericht. In Forschungsinitiative Zukunft Bau, F3180. Fraunhofer IRB Verlag.
    2. Menges, A. (2020). BUGA Wood Pavilion 2019. A+u, 20:04(595), Article 595.
    3. Menges, A., Knippers, J., Wagner, H. J., & Zechmeister, C. (2020). Pilotprojekte Für Ein Integratives Computerbasiertes Planen Und Bauen. In M. Bischoff, M. von Scheven, & B. Oesterle (Eds.), Baustatik - Baupraxis 14: Institut für Baustatik und Baudynamik (pp. 67--79). University of Stuttgart.
  2. 2019

    1. Menges, A., Knippers, J., Wagner, H. J., & Sonntag, D. (2019). BUGA Holzpavillon - Freiformfläche aus robotisch gefertigten Nulltoleranz- Segmenten. In Proceedings of the 25. Internationales Holzbau-Forum IHF 2019 (pp. 129--138).


For further information visit:
ICD – University of Stuttgart and ITKE – University of Stuttgart


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