A Robot Built An Installation Using 120,000 Granular Particles

The University of Stuttgart‘s ‘ICD Aggregate Pavilion 2018’ is made from thousands of interlocking spiked particles, made from recycled plastics. A rapidly building robot amassed the large-scale structure, which is self-supporting.

The artificially made granular particles resemble snowflakes and act like grains of sand or gravel, in that they are not bound to each other but still interact through contact force. The star-like mass of particles was created to act like sand and gravel: emulating their constant state of erosion, movement, and formation. The structure is held up only by friction, and is able to be reconfigured for later reuse. The pavilion is the result of over a decade of research into man-made granular materials. To construct the installation, hundreds of balloon-like spheres set the framework in its shape, onto which the robotic system poured the spiked particles. Once in place, the spheres were deflated and removed, leaving the structure in its current form—with a cave-like interior that enables viewers to immerse themselves in the project.


All images © Roland Halbe