As part of the 2012 Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, Dragon Skin is an experimental structure that explores the use of post-formable plywood. The striking pavilion is created entirely with interlocking, precisely formed and joined scales that allow light into a solid looking form.
The scales of the Dragon Skin combine a new material (post-formable plywood), thoroughly modern digital design (parametric scripting), and fabrication technology (CNC-routing). The scales started as flat, regularly shaped pieces and were bent on a wooden mold.
The Dragon Skin Project team described their process in a design statement:
A computer programmed 3D master model generated the cutting files for those pieces in a file-to-factory process: algorithmic procedures were scripted to give every rectangular component their precisely calculated slots for the sliding joints, all in gradually shifting positions and angles to give the final assembled pavilion its curved form. A meticulously pre-choreographed montage sequence required all components to be uniquely labelled and numbered for assembling or dismantling the structure. The 163 plywood components were manufactured in Finland at TUT and shipped to Hong Kong, where our team assembled the pavilion on the exhibition area situated in Kowloon Park.
Post-formable plywood, meaning that the plywood can be molded after it has been produced as a panel, is a patent pending material developed by UPM Grada. The Grada plywood enables a new way of form pressing, decreasing time and material waste.
Traditionally, bent plywood is produced by cutting, grading, gluing, and then bending individual veneers, or plies. Grada plywood can be placed in a mold as a single panel or sheet, removing the grading and gluing steps and creating a more efficient process. The Grada panel uses an adhesive foil that allows plies to slide when heated, so the panel can simply be cut, heated, and formed in a press.
The Dragon Skin pavilion is a collaboration between architects Emmi Keskisarja, Pekka Tynkkynen, Kristof Crolla and Sebastien Delagrange. The pavilion can be seen at the 2012 Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture until April 23.
Images: courtesy and copyright Dragon Skin Project