Timescapes by AIRLAB, is a 3D printed pavilion that commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the Singapore University of Technology and Design. It preserves and exhibits the university’s most significant innovations and milestones over the past decade, with a design that coordinates form and materials to reflect the ambitious and adventurous spirit of the young university.
The form of the capsule represents the cyclical nature of time: a periodic surface peels from the ground in an oscillating motion, holding the collection in a secure yet open space. The project leverages the precision of 3D printing. The team was able to test, calculate, optimize and plan before production.
The ambition is to reduce the wastage in construction to almost zero by using Additive Manufacturing, where no removal of material is needed, reducing the number of try-outs for molds, and ultimately reducing cost. Plant-based biopolymer PLA is used as a filament with the intention to reduce the time required for bio-degradation from hundreds of years to a few decades.
To create this unique form, digital tools, and advanced manufacturing methods were developed and applied. The capsule’s surface consists of 3,582 unique panels, which were computationally designed and 3D printed with biopolymers, producing zero waste. This surface sits over a timber structure, optimized to reduce material consumption and emphasize the feeling of lightness.
The original client brief was to conceal the exhibition underneath a raised floor. However, the design surpasses the initial expectations by working with a three-dimensional concept, creating alternative ways for users to relate to the exhibition and introducing a new centre in a vast space that otherwise lacks structure and directionality.
The Time Capsule is designed to keep the existing flow of people, allowing them to walk through it. Additionally, the design adds four pockets of spaces that activate the Campus Centre outwardly. Users get surprised and immersed inside this new manmade landscape integrated by more than 3500 individual components.
Material resources are limited and designers are responsible for their management and wise use. Using 3D Printing to create a 145sqm allows for precise utilization of the material in every square meter of the space, reducing construction wastage to almost zero. SUTD students contributed to the development and execution of the design, allowing the researchers to pass the knowledge and design values to future generations of designers.
3D printing is often limited to small-scale fabrication. However, by means of a well-orchestrated integration of elements using a bespoke mathematical circle-packing formula, it enables the fabrication of this unique experience by creating a continuous double-curvature fabric.
This iconic design inspires users by its bold and elegant geometry. With a simple gesture of bending a continuous surface, many spatial possibilities are generated. It is placed in the centre of the main lobby of SUTD where every visitor and student pass by every day, serving as a beacon of inspiration and bringing a new identity and a focal point for the university and its users.