University of Tokyo - Department of Architecture

The UAE Pavilion wins Golden Lion for best national pavilion at Venice Biennale 2021

Venice Biennale Architecture Exhibition is one of the most respected architecture exhibitions in the world. With a request from Kenichi Teramoto and Wael Al Awar, curators of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) National Pavilion, Jun Sato’s laboratory and Yusuke Obuchi’s laboratory collaborated to support the UAE’s commissioners and ambitions. The UAE produces a large amount of salt as a byproduct during the desalination process of seawater. The main concept of the pavilion was to utilize magnesium, which was extracted from the salt, and use it as a hardening agent for building parts made of cement.

Sato-Lab proposed a simple solution for the production of 2500 pieces of the cement parts within a tight time constraint; make shallow trenches in the ground as a formwork and pour cement to be cured. This production process resulted in the making of “coral-shaped” pieces. We also proposed a structural design by synchronizing with Obuchi sensei’s digital fabrication guiding system for sequential structural optimization to develop an assembly logic.

Obuchi-Lab has designed and developed a human centric digital fabrication system which supported assembly crew members on site by connecting them with real-time spatial and geometrical information of the 2500 pieces to be installed in a designated area. When pieces were installed in a shape of ring and formed a layer, collected spatial data of installed pieces was then analyzed for structural stability and overall geometrical accuracy. In the end of the fabrication process, we were able to create an architectural form as a result of integrating technology and nature, and craftsmanship and machine.

It is a great honor to be part of the work that received the Golden Lion, the highest award given , at this prestigious exhibition.

Joint statement by Jun Sato and Yusuke Obuchi