In 2014, AR-MA's Trifolium pavilion emerged as a result of the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation's (SCAF) annual Fugitive Structures competition, demonstrating a sophisticated application of advanced computer design technologies in response to a research-focused brief. SCAF's aim with the competition was to foster the integration of complex technologies and materials into architectural design. AR-MA, with its dedication to progressive architectural methodologies and materials research, was successful in securing the commission.
The Trifolium pavilion, aptly named for its three-leaved structure, showcases a self-supporting Corian exterior envelope, thermally-formed and robotically-trimmed, complemented by 152 mirror-polished Rimex interior panels in black. The two surfaces were intertwined using 452 unique self-jigging stainless steel brackets designed for the welding process.
Internally, the pavilion's fluid, continuous space lends itself to varied uses, serving as a meeting place or auditorium. The external courtyard, segmented by the three leaves, offers smaller, intimate spaces. The interior's reflective surfaces bridge the inside with the outside, mirroring the courtyard and creating a kaleidoscope of views. As the sun descends, the space transforms, with 42 fibre-optic lights embedded in concrete pavers casting an endless reflection around the interior, deepening the viewer's engagement with the pavilion.
To craft a pavilion of such geometric complexity and material intricacy, AR-MA developed custom scripts, plug-ins, and stand-alone programs for modelling the structure, a feature common to all AR-MA's work. This software seamlessly integrated geometric, material, and structural considerations, ultimately guiding computer-controlled fabrication.
The fabrication process, which spanned three months, encompassed digitally integrated procedures such as CNC-routing, laser-cutting, and thermo-forming. Given the more than three-thousand unique pieces, the project was as much a logistical challenge as it was a design one, requiring precise coordination to ensure each component arrived in the correct place at the correct time.