Robotically Fabricated Timber Pavilion

Innovative Collaboration: Robotic Fabrication of Timber Pavilion

Innovative Collaboration: Robotic Fabrication of Timber Pavilion

TYLin’s Silman Structural Solutions’ partnership with the University of Michigan’s Taubman School of Architecture and Adel Design + Research is an outstanding example of cutting-edge innovation. Together, we pushed the boundaries of design and construction by combining human creativity with state-of-the-art robotics.

At the heart of this project lies a timber pavilion — a structure that looks beautiful but also reflects innovative thinking. The pavilion is constructed from salvaged 2x4 framing materials sourced from local sawmills. What makes this project unique is the integration of parametric design and robotic fabrication. The modest 2x4s were transformed into a captivating structure of intricate truss-frame modules. The team used tools like Rhino, Grasshopper, Karamba, RISA 3D, and SAP2000 to develop the most efficient way to create complex truss-frame patterns that balance structural stiffness and efficient material usage. The team developed every aspect of the design with robotic fabrication in mind.

Robotically Fabricated Timber Pavilion

Robots played a central role in bringing this vision to life. Working in collaboration with the human design team, the robots meticulously cut and crafted over 400 connections for the pavilion based on the computer plans. This ability to mass-customize the modules cannot be achieved through conventional methods, and the approach minimized wasted wood while streamlining the construction process. The result is a breathtaking timber pavilion entirely fabricated by robots and assembled by a team of students at the Matthaei Botanical Garden in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This innovation offers many advantages, but first and foremost, it demonstrates the incredible potential of using parametric-based structural workflows and robotic fabrication. This combination creates awe-inspiring structural forms that maximize strength while minimizing materials, a crucial aspect of sustainable construction.

The impact of this project extends beyond the pavilion as a standalone achievement — it serves as the foundation for application on a much larger scale. It sets the stage for a future when robotics and human ingenuity merge to redefine the construction industry, making it more efficient, sustainable, and daring in its designs. This collaboration with the University of Michigan is a step forward to a time when innovation has no bounds, where robots and humans come together to build structures limited only by our imagination. This project is a glimpse into the exciting future of architecture and construction.

Justin Den Herder
Justin Den Herder, PE

A prolific writer and lecturer, Justin is passionate about the profession and seeks out opportunities to share his experience and learn from others.

As Associate and co-leader of a studio for TYLin's Silman Structural Solutions practice, Justin oversees new construction, renovation, and historic preservation projects of varying scales around the world.