IE University recently unveiled an innovative architectural project called innixAR: a vaulted pavilion featuring arches that create a self-supporting, curved roof known for its aesthetic appeal and structural integrity.

Built by researchers and PhD and undergraduate students in Segovia, this collaboration with Princeton University combines traditional vaulting techniques with cutting-edge digital tools. The aim was to integrate modern technology with traditional craftsmanship, emphasizing a commitment to sustainability and the use of local materials.

Designed and built in a mere three months, the pavilion project at IE University utilizes ancient vaulting principles enhanced by modern digital fabrication techniques such as augmented reality for increased precision and efficiency. This project combines new and old building methods and pushes the boundaries of architectural innovation, resulting in a sustainable and structurally impressive pavilion.

The innixAR pavilion at IE University highlights how architects are adapting to climate change.

Designed as a shaded gathering spot and a tranquil meditation area, the pavilion uses locally sourced tiles to minimize its carbon footprint. This collaborative effort between IE University, the University of Bergamo and Princeton University’s Form Finding Lab serves as a model for sustainable design and highlights the potential for future environmentally conscious architecture.

The construction process involved augmented reality tools, such as HoloLens, which allowed master builder, Salvador Gomis, to explore augmented reality in different contexts and applications. The design followed age-old principles for constructing arches and domes, but advanced computational tools were used to shape the structure.

IE University’s collaboration with Princeton University has led to significant educational and practical outcomes, notably through the two distinctive projects in Segovia and Venice. The Angelus Novus vault in Venice featured a recycled brick vaulted pavilion that was showcased at the Venice Biennial of Architecture, illustrating the potential of traditional crafts in contemporary design. In Segovia, innixAR was constructed using locally sourced tiles, a relatively simple process given tile vaulting’s strong roots in Spain.

These remarkable projects align with the evolving construction industry by removing the need for printed plans and enhancing precision. Instead, they facilitate direct communication between on-site builders and designers. These vaulted pavilion projects used Twinbuild software on Microsoft HoloLens to replace traditional guide work consisting of steel rods or PVC with digital alternatives. This shift resulted in more efficient construction without the need for substructure support, which naturally increased overall productivity.

This innovative process was developed by Rafael Pastrana and Robin Oval at the Form Finding Lab, and was shaped through discussions with Salvador who played an integral part in the project’s design. Students and researchers used sustainable materials for this hands-on experience to further their understanding of the need for sustainable architecture. Thanks to the project, they also set a precedent for eco-friendly construction practices, highlighting the viability of low-carbon, locally sourced building solutions for future projects.

Projects like innixAR enrich students’ understanding of architectural design and provide them with first-hand experience working on the front lines of cutting-edge developments. This project underscores the potential of not only tile vaulting, but also of augmented reality to contribute to sustainable architectural education.

There is so much to learn from looking at what we’ve already achieved through a new lens. The innixAR is only one of many innovative projects IE University is proud to host. We can’t wait to see what our students innovate next and how they go on to drive sustainable change in their designs.

To learn more about the innixAR project and what IE University students gained from the practical experience, check out our video series here.