Navigating between sculpture, architecture, furniture

At first glance, you might wonder what, exactly, you’re looking at.

It’s definitely large in size and seems to be composed of many wooden slats meticulously cut and strategically placed.  The curving, abstract nature of its shape suggests that it might be some sort of architectural sculpture.

Whatever it is, it’s begging to be put to use.  So go on – sit on it, lie down and get some sun, or climb on it like you’re back on the playground.

Students of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture created this Visual Permeability Pavilion for the aforementioned purposes – or, as co-leaders of the project Aaron Berman, LEED AP, and Steven Sanchez, LEED AP, said, “Simply put, the pavilion is meant to be enjoyed in whatever means someone might see fit.”

As part of a digital fabrication course at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, they, along with eight other students (all a mix of first-, second- and third-year graduate students at the time) spent a full semester not just designing the structure, but manually constructing it.

How it’s Green

Using computer numerical control (CNC) milling techniques and nested connection pieces, the amount of waste created in building the pavilion is limited.  Because the entire project was designed in 3-D modeling software, which programs the robotic drill to digitally cut and number the pieces, the cost and material required for construction and realization of the pavilion is significantly decreased, and overall efficiency increased, when compared to other methods.

Where it’s intended to be used

Suitable for any climate, environment and social situation, the pavilion’s birch plywood has been weatherproofed and the structure was built with water-resistant hardware.  Navigating between sculpture, architecture and furniture, the space is designed to facilitate various requirements for privacy and relaxation and can adapt to multiple user types and social situations.

All ages are welcome, but Berman noted that seeing children interact with the project has been the most inspiring.

How it facilitates both relaxation and social interaction

Programmed seating areas provide various levels of privacy and occupancy, designed to allow the user to choose the appropriate seating type based on his or her temporal preference.  The goal of the pavilion project was to engage users on all levels of privacy and interaction through its varied seated conditions.


In addition to Berman and Sanchez, group members included:  Luis Alarcon, Michael Georgopoulos, Eun Ki Kang, Dayeon Kim, Nicole Kotsis, Jeeun Grace Lee, Aaron Mark and Hylee Oh.

Inspiration from the project came from instructors Brigette Borders and Mark Bearak, as well as multiple types of design and construction precedents including, but not limited to: Shop Architect’s P.S.1 Dune Scape, UN Studio’s Burnham Pavilion, Lisa Iwamoto’s “Architectural and Material Techniques,” and Michael Meredith’s “From Control to Design: Parametric/Algorithmic Architecture.”

Also see the pavilion featured in Contemporist and ArchDaily.

For more information on the Visual Permeability Pavilion, contact Aaron Berman or Steven Sanchez.

Photos courtesy of Aaron Berman.

This story was also published in:


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