All images (c) Structural Xploration Lab, EPFL


Introduced as a proof of concept, this 11 · 6m² elastic gridshell from 200 reclaimed skis demonstrates that the technology embedded in discarded sport equipment can perform better than conventional materials in specific high-demanding structural purposes. The pavilion has been presented at the first Architecture Biennale in Lyon, summer 2017, at the 2017 international symposium of the IASS, and is currently on display in French ski resorts.

Elastic gridshells are special structures that can be assembled without scaffolding. They gain their rigidity thanks to the permanent bending of their elements after being pre-assembled on a flat surface. Pioneered by Frei Otto and Ted Happold in Mannheim (1975), elastic gridshells have since been then commonly built with small, high-strength timber laths. Sometimes, reclaimed material from other sectors are good alternatives to conventional material. Skis, as many other high-end sport equipment, have a very short lifespan and cannot be cheaply recycled because of their composite nature. However, even after years of second-hand cycles, skis maintain valuable mechanical properties: high curvature capacity in one direction and great rigidity in the transverse direction.

On the one hand, skis greatly vary in stiffness. On the other hand, the geometric stiffness of the shell is not uniform. Part of the designer’s role is therefore to assign the diverse skis at the most appropriate locations on the gridshell, in order to ensure overall stability and minimize deflections.

Project team

Structural Xploration Lab

Corentin Fivet (project investigator)

Sofia Colabella (gridshell designer & worksite manager)

Bernardino D’Amico (form-finding)

Claude-Alain Jacot (procurement & construction)

Jan Brütting (detailing & construction)

Valeria Didonna, Jacopo Orlandi, Julieta Moradei (construction)

Endrit Hoxha (life-cycle analysis)


The ski pavilion at the Biennale Architecture Lyon

The ski pavilion at the Biennale Architecture Lyon

Jun 8, 2017

The ski pavilion developed by the Structural Xploration Lab (smart living lab, ENAC) took part in the grand opening of the biennale of architecture lyon (BAL) in the Sucrière, Lyon,…