The Silk Pavilion, a precursor to Silk Pavilion II, explores relationships between digital and biological construction, proposing methods that unite the biologically spun and the robotically woven. Inspired by the silkworm’s ability to generate a three-dimensional cocoon out of a single silk thread, Silk Pavilion I was developed in 2013 and took form as a three-meter wide dome, constructed over three weeks with a flock of 6,500 live silkworms assisted by a robotic arm. Each silkworm spun a single silk thread filament that is about 1km long. Combined, the silkworms produced a dome-shaped thread as long as the Silk Road.
By studying how the silkworm’s spinning behavior is informed by spatial and environmental conditions, we were able to guide the silkworm’s movement to spin two-dimensional sheets rather than three-dimensional cocoons.
The base structure of the pavilion was created of 26 polygonal panels made of silk threads laid down by a Computer-Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine. Once established, a swarm of 6,500 silkworms was positioned at the bottom rim of the scaffold, where they began their work, spinning flat non-woven silk patches, locally reinforcing the gaps across the CNC-deposited silk fibers.