Bent Stainless-steel Tubes
Several thousand bent stainless-steel pipes on an area of 30,000 m2 form the facade of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Saudi Arabia. The substructure of the pipes is an elementary building shell covered with standing-seam metal sheets onto which the stainless-steel pipes are attached using so-called pins. These compensate for the different movements between the building envelope and the pipes. The building complex was designed by the Norwegian architectural practice Snøhetta. The idea behind the design was to make the five up to 90 m-high individual buildings shine like bare pebbles in the sun.
In order to realise the organic shape of the building, each of the 70,000 stainless-steel pipes made of duplex steel is geometrically unique. The reference for geometry, design, manufacturing, dimensional control and assembly is the virtual centre line in the pipe. The distance between the three-dimensionally bent tubes is 10 mm. Depending on the subsequent installation position, the pipes had to be marked accordingly, bent, and also partly squashed for shading purposes in a technically complex process. Seele placed transitions at the points where solid pipes were to become squashed pipes.
It also developed software for the bending and measuring machines in order to be able to manufacture the tubes efficiently. The software calculated the final geometry of the bent pipe, simulated the bending process, checked the accuracy of the fit, and authorised manufacture.