Pavilion Black Box can in many ways be viewed as the origin of the Warp & Woof architecture office: It is where we received our first chance to show a piece of realized architecture to the world.
This was exactly the aim of the original competition - organized by TU Delft's student association D.B.S.G. Stylos. Their view was to give all students of the faculty of architecture an equal opportunity to have his/her own design realized, and on top of that a chance for dozens of students to gain valuable practical experience.
An international jury (with Jo Coenen, Kees Kaan, Bob van Reeth, and Mick Eeckhout among its members) elected pavilion Black Box as the winning design out of 62 proposals.
Over a period of 1,5 years the winning design was drawn up and constructed by a team of over 70 students, under the supervision of enthusiastic teachers and participating companies.
The building was to be used at different, irregular times of the day, for a wide variety of activities. To give the pavilion a permanently powerful countenance, the internal functioning of the building was detached from the direct external appearance.
Varying degrees of privacy could thus be realized. In its most closed form, the people outside would only get little peeks of the activities happening inside, mainly through the playfully sized and placed windows, running over façades and roof.
This whole playful tension can be brought to a climax with one simple act: Open up the enormous pivoted door and the whole pavilion is immediately rendered open for the public.
All of the sudden indoor and outdoor merge with one another, literally and figuratively, and the pavilion becomes part of the surroundings, its space encompassing a much larger area and inviting people in.
One of the most important and innovative features of the pavilion is its façade: It is completely covered in a wide variety of plants. A sturdy layered substrate construction covered with a sheet of felt provides a place for the plants to take root and grow, while an intricate system of pipes and drippers furnishes the plants with all the necessary nutrients and water.
Careful research went into the choice of plants and their placement, and we worked together with many experts in the botanical field to give the façade a head start - hand picking the right type of plant for orientation and exposure.
The pavilion - and the research that went into it - was intended to give of a statement of its own: It serves as an example of how we can re-introduce green into the increasingly dense urban landscape, where space for nature is dwindling fast.
The benefits of this technique are huge: Green walls filter fine dust and purify the air, shield from sun, rain and thermal fluctuations, provide oxygen and give off a sense of well-being.
The whole wall, in fact the complete building is wonderfully alive: 1,5 years of research resulted in a habitat where nature can flourish.
The building changes along with the seasons, with plants changing color, blooming, or even bearing fruit. Different plants are more prominent at different times, and we found the building can surprise you with a different appearance each and every day.
Given the competition constraints the initial design was always interpreted as a maximization of space: A cube-shaped Black Box that could house all the different activities connected to the study association in different configurations.
In the final design this concept was taken up as a completely open interior space, where a second volume would become the place-defining object; dividing up the large space into smaller, more intimate spaces.
This second volume housed a bar, storage room, bathroom facilities and a meeting room. An extra space defining feature was found in a hoist system that would harbor all chairs, which could be lowered in the event of a lecture or presentation.
The construction of the pavilion is completely based on the balloon-frame principle, where all vertical load-bearing elements run along the full height of the frame.
Both the façades and the roof are completely realized in wood. The wooden construction is left in sight, giving an honest view of the way the building was erected, and giving off that feeling of warmth that only wood can do.
Behind the pivoted door sits an enormous glazed folding wall. This gives the pavilion yet another touch of flexibility. In one step you can open up the outer door to increase transparency of activities taking place in the pavilion, and upon opening up the glass wall the whole building becomes a covered terrace.
The building process of the pavilion was specifically tuned to the knowledge and capacities of the students who were to build it, with lots of prefabrication and a minimum use of scaffolding.
The four walls and roof elements were prefabricated in horizontal position, and then hoisted into place like an enormous do-it-yourself kit.
The fully insulated wooden walls were then covered in a layer of EPDM foil, after which the building was ready to receive the substrate layers, to hold the hundreds of plants that give the building its real character.
In April 2008 the TU Delft faculty of architecture burned down. The pavilion, formerly part of a lively place where thousands of people passed by every day, now became a solitary object on the outskirts of the campus.
Due to the relocation of the faculty, the pavilion was too far off from the new location to be of any use to the students association. Not surprisingly, the empty building became the victim of pyromaniacs who set fire to it in October 2008.
The building was torn down a few days later.
2007 - 2009
Delft, the Netherlands
Philip MannaertsMartijn de Geus
Bobby BolPeter van den TolNico Straver
Team of 70+ studentsAdviesbureau LuningTU Delft
CorusEPDM systemsFinnforestIsobouwKUNZNophadrainSlavenburg bouw