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Steam-Bent Timber Pavilion Revealed At Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2019

Steampunk Pavilion / Tallinn Architecture Biennale

Tõnu Tunnel

The 5th edition of Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB 2019) has opened in Estonia, hosting exhibitions and installations dedicated to the provocative theme ‘Beauty Matters’. This promising edition of the international architecture festival, which continues until November 17th, 2019 celebrates the aesthetic experience in architecture, after almost 80 years of cultural bias.

Held in the Great Hall of the Rotermann Salt Storage, now housing the Museum of Estonian Architecture, the Curatorial Exhibition Beauty Matters, aims to elevate the status of beauty in response to alienating and ecologically unfit built environments.  

 Steampunk Pavilion / Tallinn Architecture Biennale

Gwyllim Jahn and Cameron Newnham of studio Fologram, Soomeen Hahm Design and Igor Pantic have built one of the event’s most eye-catching projects — a steam-bent timber pavilion. Titled Steampunk, this 4 meters high pavilion stands fiercely on top of a small mound in front of the Museum of Estonian Architecture.

 Steampunk Pavilion / Tallinn Architecture Biennale

Steampunk is made from steam-bent timber elements, using analogue tools augmented with the precision of mixed reality environments. “Steampunk explores a path to rethink applications and traditions of craft in pursuit of their evolution,” explain the architects.

As material expertise and traditional craftsmanship gradually succumb to the promises of bespoke design customisation via CNCN machines and 3D printers, the team has focused on a hybrid approach that reinterprets the primitive tools of architecture from a contemporary perspective.

 Steampunk Pavilion / Tallinn Architecture Biennale

The pavilion combines “an adaptive design and fabrication system that is resilient to wide variations in material behaviour and fabrication accuracy, occupying a fuzzy in-between that is neither purely analogue nor purely automated.”

Steampunk is built from ash wood that can be bent more easily than any other timber. To give more strength to the structure, parts of the installation are made from thermally modified wood that is produced by Estonian company Thermory. The process makes wood more durable in different weather conditions from extreme cold and snow to direct sun.

 Steampunk Pavilion / Tallinn Architecture Biennale

“The structure challenges the idea of the primitive hut –showing how, by using algorithmic logic, simple raw materials can be turned into a highly complex and inhabitable structure,” says Gilles Retsin, TAB 2019’s Installation Programme Curator.

The 2019 Tallinn architecture biennale continues until November 17th, 2019 while Steampunk will remain in place until the next edition of Tallinn Architecture Biennale in 2021.