Armadillo Vault

Structural Designer

Block Research Group and ODB Engineering

Client Name

Venice Biennale

Location

Venice, Italy

PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR: The Escobedo Group

ARCHITECT: Block Research Group

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The Armadillo, exhibited at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, is a doubly curved, unreinforced, cut-stone funicular vault, constructed from 399 limestone blocks. The thickness of stone varies from 8-12 cm at the supports to 5 cm at its peak. With a height of 4.4 m and spans of over 15 m, the structure has a span-to-thickness ratio less than half of that of an eggshell. Modern methods of computational form finding, structural analysis and digital fabrication were all interwoven to create a compression-only masonry structure inspired by traditional masonry craftsmanship and analysis methods.

Judge's comment:

Exhibited at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, the Armadillo is a doubly curved, unreinforced, cut-stone funicular vault, constructed from 399 limestone blocks, fusing traditional masonry craftsmanship with digital fabrication techniques. The structure had to be installed with great care, respecting the columns and floor of the historic Corderie dell'Arsenale building.

With a height of 4.4m and spans of over 15m, the structure has a span-to-thickness ratio less than half of that of an eggshell. The double-curvature shape provides a geometrically stiff structure, allowing for reduced weight - showcasing compression-only masonry structures as an alternative to typical bending members.