Gianni Botsford Architects were invited by the landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan to design a ‘smoking pavilion’ within the garden of a private house in Zurich he was designing. Their 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. They wanted to pavilion to create a shelter, but at the same time allow a subtle perception of the garden and the sunlight. Translucent concrete felt like an appropriate material in this case, because it allowed the surrounding colors, shapes, movements and shadows to be perceived from the interior. This is the first ever self-supporting translucent concrete building. A new system was developed with GBA, Tall Engineers, Litracon and Hammerlein, 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.
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