Students’ Bent Plywood Pavilion Puts The Eameses To Shame

Impressed by the bent plywood furniture of Charles and Ray Eames? Then feast your eyes on what a bunch of students whipped up at a university in Zurich.

This giant umbrella of a pavilion is made by stretching oversized sheets of curved plywood, each as much as 8 feet wide and 36 feet long, over the steps of the architecture department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH).

A plywood structure that big and heavy should collapse on itself. But by carving perforations into the wood, the designers made it easier to bend and more resistant to powerful wind loads. Then, they arranged the plywood sheets to overlap and interlock, creating a set of "self-stabilizing vaults." Cross-bracing cables help keep everything in place.

The pavilion was a collaboration between the Chair of Structural Design at ETH and the Emergent Technologies and Design program at the Architectural Association (AA) in London. Read more about it at

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  • Tartags

    While I do think this is a great project that beautifully stretches over the stair, it does not even come close to "putting the Eameses to shame." Ray Eames' molded plywood sculpture of the 1940's were actually molded and bent. They contain folds and double curvatures. This installation is simply a large, bent piece of plywood. Beautiful, yes. Better than the Eameses, not even close.