The experimental pavilion BOXEL was designed and realized by students of the architecture department during the last summer semester on the campus of the University of Applied Sciences in Detmold. The expressive design by Henri Schweynoch, which succeeded in an impromptu competition, creates a generous spatial scenery for presentations, concerts, events and gatherings on the campus.

Within the digital design course, led by Prof. Marco Hemmerling, the students were not only asked to design a summer pavilion but also to construct and realize the design as a mock-up in scale 1:1, using digital design and fabrication tools. Against this background the digital workflow including parameters of production, construction and material became key issues of the further process.

The building shape is based on a minimal surface and consists of more than 2.000 beer boxes that are organized along the free form geometry. The temporary construction was designed using parametric software to control the position of the boxes in relation to the overall geometry and to analyze the structural performance.

In order to define the construction concept and the detailing of the connection several static load tests were made to understand the structural behaviour of the unusual building material, especially since the empty beer boxes were not stacked onto but freely organized next to each other. In parallel to a series of shearing and bending tests in the university’s laboratory of material research the structural concept was simulated and optimized using FEM-Software.

Finally a simple system of slats and screws was chosen for the assembly of the pavilion that allowed for a flexible and invisible connection. Additional bracings were placed in the upper part of the boxes to generate the required stiffness of the modules. The structural load transfer was realized by concrete-lined boxes at the three base points that served as foundation for the pavilion. BOXEL was erected in only one week by the students and served as a scenic background for the end of semester party and during the international summer school at the University in Detmold. The beer boxes which, after being ten years in use, were supplied by the local brewery and will be recycled when the pavilion is being disassembled.

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