Flocking Tejas Installation at La Biennale Archittetura di Venezia 2021

Flocking Tejas Installation at La Biennale Archittetura di Venezia 2021

La Biennale is the most important and prestigious architecture exhibition worldwide – directly located in the heart of the world-famous lagoon city of Venice in Italy. The 17th Architecture Biennale is curated by Hashim Sarkis and runs from 22 May to 21 November 2021. This international architecture exhibition this year is entitled “How will we live together”.

As a contribution to this topic – Chilean based Architects Bárbara Barreda and Felipe Sepúlveda from BASE studio developed a stunning spatial system as a symbiosis of handcraft and digital design. Therefore, the architects attached traditional hand-crafted roof tiles made of pure clay to an advanced three-dimensional mesh structure.

Following the concept of La Biennale, BASE studio describes this architectural installation as highlighted below:

“Flocking Tejas is an emergent and adaptable architectural system exploring new spatial and formal repertoires for handcrafted discrete materials. A system that can be adopted by a diversity of communities as an accessible, transferable architectural strategy in which people become active participants of its materialization.”

In terms of materializing the metaphoric and poetic concept, BASE studio initially developed a series of studies and models to demonstrate the feasibility of their endeavor. For the realization of a full-scale prototype, the designers contacted Carl Stahl ARC as a professional provider for tensile structures – especially in the field of stainless steel meshes and rope systems.

Since the use of meshes is the key element for enabling the innovative potential of the “Flocking Tejas”-system, a very fruitful collaboration was established, and the joint development of construction details started.

Even if the geometry of the system appears to be quite complex at first, the system basically consists of only four simple components.

The spatially curved steel tube is the first element that defines the supporting structure for the mesh as the second element.  The third element – an assembled cable – is used to attach the mesh directly to the connection details of the steel tube. At the same time, the length-adjustment of the perimeter cable induces the prestress into the mesh until the final mesh geometry is reached. As a final step, the tiles (fourth element) can be suspended from the mesh-nodes.

For the realization of the 1:1 Prototype, the use of X-TEND stainless steel mesh meets both: the requirements of the architectural concept and the mechanical properties. Due to its high tensile strength, the X-TEND mesh is ideally suited as filigree lightweight support structure for the clay tiles. Furthermore, the flexibility allows a spectacular transformation – from a flat mesh geometry to a gentle wide-spanning three-dimensional minimal surface.

In terms of attaching the mesh to the perimeter steel tube, I-SYS stainless steel rope components allow a quick and flexible assembly. In particular, the use of I-SYS Easy Grip components enables the user to perfectly adjust the cable length on site – including the joinery of the end terminals – as no additional use of heavy hydraulic tools is required.

Design BASE studio: Bárbara Barreda, Felipe Sepúlveda

Engineering Arup: Ed Clark, Chris Clarke

Carl Stahl ARC Consultant: Clemens Freitag.

Photography: © Raul Betti

With the support of The Chilean Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage and Carl Stahl ARC GmbH