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Kasa Pavilion

Portable Folding Pavilion Structure (Half Scale Prototype)


Awarded: Socrates Sculpture Park - Folly/Function 2017 Notable Entry


Project Team: 

Naomi Darling - Principal 

Ray K Mann - Principal 

Maya Gamble

Michael Choudhary

Kai Petit-Darling


Kasa, meaning “umbrella” in Japanese, celebrates this unfolding, morph-able casa.

Inspired by Santiago Calatrava’s folding structures (1), we decided to play with one of his pentagonal configuration that is a portion of a double triangulated pentagonal docecahedron — to create a symmetrical pavilion-like form with five supporting legs. The structure is stable even with flexible joints, when staked down or anchored by modest weights. Variously tipping the frame over, we discovered that the structure remains stable while generating alternative configurations—larger to smaller, square-ish to round-ish, regular to irregular, more open to more closed--an airy picnic pavilion transformable with minimal fuss to a compact and sheltered market stall, a half-shell for performers or audience, an outdoor dining and meeting space. We anticipate many potential uses for such a structure and built a 1/2 scale prototype to test various joint and knotting conditions. 

Drawing upon our experiences of working on tall ships, doing Japanese-influenced site-specific installations and portable structures with the Nipmuc Native Americans, we decided to explore the potential of nautical rigging knots and wrapping techniques to connect standard wooden rods together to create a strong but also somewhat flexible structure. The idea of combining strength and resiliency – such as one might find in bamboo, a blade of grass, or a tree – is different than the strength of a rigid structure that is not intended to move. Along these lines of thinking, we felt that flexible joints of tarred twine would allow our structure to be much lighter and economical in addition to providing an attractive and tactile solution. 

We developed an unfolding structure made up of 25 wood rods and 21 joints, with a textile covering made up of detachable overlapping triangular panels. In stored position, the structure occupies a 1’x1’x 9’6” volume of space including the attached textile covering. The structure when fully opened defines a pavilion-like space 18’ in diameter and 10’ tall. Alternatively, the structure can be tipped on its side to take on a variety of other stable positions of approximately 10’x10’x 8’h., 10’x18’ x 8’h. Triangular-shaped rugged textile panels attached to the frame with oval grommets and turn-button fasteners to provide a straightforward but flexible means of enclosure. There is potential for the fabric to be printed with a logo and embedded with low- cost PV LED’s. With only three dowel lengths, four joint conditions, and a flexible modular covering of seven panels, the structure is remarkably easy to construct, lending itself well to a low-cost community workshop activity. Having separate fabric panels allows some choice in creating more or less enclosure depending on sun and wind conditions and also allows for the replacement of single panels in the event of a puncture or tear. 

Deployment takes two people no more than ten minutes: When the one-piece structure is initially pulled open, the upper “roof” is positioned just above the ground, supported on five intermediate joints. As the structure opens further, five “legs” swing down, which can in turn get lifted one-by-one to raise the upper portion of the structure. From there, the structure can be maneuvered into its desired position, and legs staked down to a lawn, or anchored to stone weights (also provided). If desired, additional textile panels can be added or removed. In the evening as the sky darkens, the embedded LEDs will begin to glow, illuminating Kasa Pavilion as a destination for gathering 

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