Garden Pavilion
Zurich, Switzerland

The idea was to create a simple structure which would sit quietly in the garden, but possess a richness and complexity in its materiality which would develop several relationships with the surrounding.The architects wanted the pavilion to create a shelter, but at the same time allow a subtle perception of the garden and the sunlight.
They have been aware of the existence of translucent concrete since it was first invented in 2001 and it felt like an appropriate material in this case, because it allowed the surrounding colors, shapes, movements and shadows to be perceived from the interior.A garden is composed of plants and living organisms. With these qualities, the translucent concrete allows the pavilion to be alive too. As the light conditions change in time, the surfaces change and vary from heavy to light, from solid to translucent, from monochromatic and uniform to varied and coloured. It breathes with the surroundings. In the night the walls and slabs are lit up creating a feeling of lightness and almost fabric-like quality.This is the first ever self-supporting translucent concrete building.

A new system (80mm thick Litracon pXL panels up to 360x230cm size) was developed with GBA, Tall Engineers, Litracon and Hemmerlein, using a new variant of the translucent elements where the precast panels had to be very carefully engineered to structurally perform very efficiently to avoid a secondary structure. The casting was a delicate operation because of the very dense pattern of the PMMA translucent elements, the carefully positioned stainless steel reinforcement and the thinness of the panels.

The final material looks very simple, but is in fact the result of highly precise and advanced engineering. The pavilion’s space is defined by five translucent precast concrete panels connecting floor, walls and roof, but the surprise lies in the effect of the structure and ones perception of a heavy and solid material becoming something both ethereal and delicate

Architect: Gianni Botsford Architects
Landscape architect: Todd Longstaffe-Gowan
Structural engineer: TALL Engineers & Hemmerlein Ingenieurbau
Checking engineer: HTB Ingenieure + PlanerAG
Contractor: Hemmerlein Ingenieurbau GmbH
Landscape contractor: Bahnsen Gartengestalter
Specialist translucent concrete supplier: Litracon Kft.

Photo: James Morris