Spatial Laminated Timber (SPLAM) Pavilion
Category: under 5,000 square feet
The Spatial Laminated Timber (SPLAM, for short) Pavilion is the result of a multi-year collaboration between the design team and the University of Michigan Taubman College. The pavilion is a permanent addition to the campus of Chicago’s EPIC Academy, one of the city’s most innovative high schools, and demonstrates the potential for prefabricated timber framing panels using robotic technology to achieve sustainable design and construction methods.
"This collaborative material exploration into the constructional possibilities of spatial laminated timber beautifully coalesces the spatial consequences of structural logic, module, and assembly." - Jury comment
Spatial-laminated timber represents the evolution of conventional framing systems, and the pavilion is a full-scale prototype of a single-story structural framing system used in mid-rise, fire-resistant construction. Much lighter than conventional framing systems, spatial-laminated timber reduces material use by nearly 50% compared to cross-laminated timber panels. As a project, the pavilion effectively demonstrates ways to minimize timber consumption and overall carbon footprint when used to construct an entire building.
By weaving together timber beams like fabric threads, the team explored the notion of using smaller pieces of wood in place of conventional mass timber construction systems. Doing so means that wood can be sourced from more rapidly renewable forests or potentially from deconstructed buildings.
“This collaborative material exploration into the constructional possibilities of spatial laminated timber beautifully coalesces the spatial consequences of structural logic, module, and assembly,” noted the jury.
The pavilion has improved the existing site parking lot. It is now a vibrant space for learning and connection and regularly hosts community events and gatherings. When it debuted during the Chicago Architectural Biennial, it hosted performances by local artists from Chicago State University’s drumline and Back Alley Jazz, drawing attention to the pavilion’s presence at the school and its innovative features. It is a natural extension of EPIC Academy’s core values, focusing on active and experiential learning.