Clay Rotunda, SE MusicLab, Bern, 2020-2021
Planning support and engineering, execution
Venue: SE MusicLab, Gurtenbrauerei Wabern, Bern
Material: Developed clay mixture for processing by the robot, no aggregates
Partners: Seforb, Gramazio Kohler Research (ETH Zurich), Brauchli Ziegelei AG, Wirz AG Bauunternehmung
Photos: Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich
EXECUTION CONSTRUCTION PROJECT(planning support and development)
The Clay Rotunda is a freestanding cylindrical clay-based structure that forms the outer, soundproof shell of the SE MusicLab, a high-fidelity music auditorium built in the newly renovated Gurten Brewery in Bern. The cylindrical structure combines clay, a sustainable, waste-free building material, with computer-aided design techniques. With a diameter of almost 11 metres, the structure reaches a height of 5 metres with only 15 cm of unreinforced natural clay walls. It was built in-situ by a mobile robotic system that aggregated over 30,000 soft mud bricks over a period of 50 days.
The Clay Rotunda has acted as a catalyst for knowledge transfer between research and industry. It was realised in collaboration with several partners who contributed to its successful implementation with their specific knowledge and experience: LEHMAG, a construction company specialising in earthen buildings and interested in combining new technologies with traditional construction methods; Seforb Sàrl, an engineering firm focusing on the structural design of earthen buildings; and Brauchli Ziegeleien, a leading brick manufacturer committed to less CO2-intensive brick production. Finally, this innovative architectural experiment would not have been possible without the vision and commitment of the client and initiator, SE MusicLab.