ONBOARD | Aaron Soares, Chan Xi Levona

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Option Studio: The Upcycle Studio
Instructor: Peter Ortner

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ONBOARD is a pavilion designed to showcase the SUTD x SIA Upcyling Initiative which focuses on the creative re-purposing and upcycling of retired commercial aircraft parts and materials.

FORM A380 plexiglass panels, aluminium frames and upcycled items come together to create a mutating pavilion which speaks about reconfigurability both in the long term, because of its circularity, and in the short term, thanks to its use of digital technologies,structural approach and modularity.

EXPERIENCE The ONBOARD pavilion offers people a place to experience or even experiment with the aesthetics and textures of upcycling when they interact with its resultant structure, space and light. It is an immersive experience within a completely upcycled environment which aims to project an upcycled future world.

UPCYCLING OVERVIEW The pavilion’s ease in reappropriating itself into different site typologies and scales highlights its role as a petri dish for a creative and normalised upcycling culture.

Assembly Diagrams

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ONBOARD’s assembly involves an extensive list of joints which are optimised to allow for countless form configurations and minimise additive materials used. The goal is to create an approachable assembly which allows for creative circularity. This is achieved via 4 facets of the assembly design:

Easy Manufacture, Easy Assembly, Easy Customisation and Easy Storage.

Form Exploration

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The modular building block of ONBOARD allows for extensive form exploration to suit various programs and environments. For the preliminary design of the SIA x SUTD Pavilion, form was inspired by the flight path – the parabolic arc created when one takes off in a plane, informed by the change in elevation and simultaneous horizontal displacement during the journey. The pavilion simulates the framed perspectives and sense of ascension which broadens one’s horizons and be amazed by where upcycling may bring us.


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The A380 Airplane Window lends itself to the creation of window deviations which showcase the aesthetics and textures of upcycling whilst being multi-functional enabling relevance in any environment. The simplicity of assembly and obtaining parts allows for easy extensibility: from product, to spatial element, to architectural space. By immersing in an upcycled space, extensibility iterations probe users to wonder about the possibility of an upcycled world.

Circularity Concept

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The Circular Concept revolves around the importance and applications of sustainable design at all stages of the product and by-product’s lifecycle. This translates into an extensible and reconfigurable pavilion with minimal new material added via the optimisation of connections and upcycled materials. Created via this user-centric concept and aided by its approachable and interactive aspects, the pavilion inspires its patrons to adopt their own way of circular design.


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Many challenges were faced along the way, from experimentation to prototyping to final fabrication and assembly. Sometimes, we received unexpected results, other times, things did not go according to plan at all, which forced us to adapt, improvise and overcome these difficulties. With every step forward, our concept grew all the more stronger, and the problems provided us with so many opportunities to push our creativity. In hindsight, this project has been exciting from start to end, and despite the hardships, it was worthwhile, and a huge opportunity to grow as a designer who designs with sustainability in mind.

Original source from: http://asd.courses.sutd.edu.sg/option-studio-one/2021/12/23/onboard-aaron-soares-chan-xi-levona/