The maximum cone size was based on the largest available sheet of aluminum, and each piece was laser cut before being formed into the three-dimensional form. These cones were then grouped in subassemblies that were transported to the site where the pavilion was assembled. The cones on the bottom row were built to be filled with gravel and sealed, weighing down the structure and preventing uplift from winds on the site.
Striving for material efficiency, the team conducted geometric studies to identify the ideal angle and depth of the cones. The first set of studies (left) determined that the most efficient use of aluminum sheets resulted in a 60-degree cone. The second series of studies (right) investigated the material usage of various depths of cones, which then had to be weighed against the effect on light transmittance into the pavilion.
The team investigated different grid configurations, including a hexagonal grid (top) based on phyllotaxis, and a square grid (middle). The hexagonal grid won out because it offered more flexibility (with two additional connection points per cone), but through geometric modeling, the team determined that regardless of the grid pattern, the axes were similar for various shapes being explored (bottom).
Scripting was used to help generate better understanding of the complex geometries and forces involved in the structure. Placing cones over a predetermined curved field helped the team to identify the connection points that give the double-layered surface of cones its strength, and to determine guide geometry that helped in modeling the ideal height of the cones. This ensured that the structure would be self-supporting and withstand any wind loads thrown at it.
In order to achieve variation with something as static as a grid, the team looked to rotating the grid around different points and axes to change the form. By experimenting with vertical or slightly canted horizontal axes, the team was able to make the grid shift, bend, and twist in ways that informed the final geometry of the pavilion.
This section shows the relationship between the height of the pavilion and the height of the average visitor, an important consideration in designing a public space. By requiring visitors to step up and over a threshold to enter the space—and by sloping down to meet the ground at the rear of the structure—the pavilion creates a series of carefully framed views for people of different statures, both through the entry and through the apertures in the metal cones.
The reflectivity of the aluminum cones picks up the colors of the pavilion's environment. But the geometry of the cones themselves creates an interesting visual trick. The lower curve of each piece reflects the sky, and the upper curve reflects the ground plane, creating an inverse relationship with the surrounding landscape.