ETFE Pillow Glass Gridshell Envelope

Advances in contemporary parametric approach in design of free-form geometry have opened up completely new perspectives of how we can envisage and design buildings, particularly their envelopes. Tendencies toward lightness and transparency are reflected in applying innovative materials and technologies and this is where new ETFE membranes take place...

Having many advantages in terms of their low weight, transparency, insulation properties, they represent the right choice for the big span structures, especially in zones with high risk of earthquakes and strong wind forces.

ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) was originally developed in the 1970s by DuPont as a lightweight, heat resistant film to serve as a coating for the aerospace industry, in addition to its ability to reliably regulate environmental conditions within the building through UV transparency - the film can be printed with specific patterns and layered to control solar conditions. Additionally, the architects noticed ETFE’s low friction coefficient that prevents dust or dirt from sticking to its surface, reducing maintenance requirements.

This exercise describes Sports Stadium conceptual model as an example of how ETFE technology was influencing the design process from the early stage and made a crucial impact on the appearance of the design.

General workflow adopted to manage the ETFE panels design process in Autodesk Revit environment. The model has been introduced into Rhino 3D through live synchronizing and the set-up has been refined into Grasshopper through Ladybug and Honeybee to fix the energy analysis features and then Octopus has been used to perform the occupancy pattern analysis by generative algorithms.

Parametric design framework was chosen as it allows great flexibility in design process and integration of all kind of parameters whether they are physical or logical. Connected with the analyses software, it became very powerful tool for exploration of how building performs.

Pebble-like shape, pervaded with the led stripes symbolizing white patterns on the local stones, was chosen to be constructed in the ETFE material. Because of their lightness and adaptability to fit in a non-planar frame, diffuseness and transparency, cost and maintenance it represents a logical choice. Furthermore, their properties to diffuse light removing glare is very important aspect for sports events.

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