The Flying Mast

(insane in the membrane...)

Tulip Umbrella by MDT-tex

MDT-tex had exhibited its beautiful design of the Tulip Umbrella in the Salone del Mobile 2010 in Milan. An impressive installation was held in the scenic inner court of Palazzo Isimbardi as part of the Fuori Salone events.

Tulip Umbrellas by MDT-tex at the Salone del Mobile 2010

The tulip Umbrella is practically an “upside-down” umbrella that opens upward –unlike the traditional umbrellas – and provides shelter from sun and rain.

Tulip Umbrellas by MDT-tex at the Salone del Mobile 2010

Tulip Umbrellas by MDT-tex at the Salone del Mobile 2010

It is a further development of the Converted Umbrella experimented on many occasions by Frei Otto and Bodo Rasch, probably the most notable of which is Rasch’s project for the inner Courtyard of the Prophet’s Holy Mosque in Medinah (1990-92). MDT-tex is the first company that produces and commercializes these convertible umbrellas to the vast market.

Tulip Umbrella (via

The design of the Tulip Umbrella allows the rainwater to be collected in the central low-point of the umbrella and be washed-down trough a transparent drainage tube that wraps around the supporting column. It comes with either rectangular frame or circular frame and its opening mechanism is both manual and motorized.

Its beauty lays in its simplicity, coherency and functionality

Tulip Umbrella (via

Tulip Umbrella (via

MDT-tex is a pioneering German company that designs, builds and sells for more then a decade high-end sunshade systems, membrane constructions and custom-made products worldwide.

The company conducts the entire production process within its fully automated cutting-edge facilities – including the fabrication of the polyester-yarn membranes – in order to guarantee the high quality of its products.

A video from the Salone del Mobile 2010 (in Italian):

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May 19, 2010 - 12:40 PM Comments: Closed

Photovoltaic Tensile Structures by FTL Solar

FTL Solar's PowerMod

FTL Solar – an American company founded in 1998 – has developed a range of sustainable products that integrate lightweight tensile fabrics with thin photovoltaic panels called PowerMods®.

PowerMods provide shelter while generating enough solar electricity (up to 4.5 kWh a day) that could power construction tools, lights, fans, medical equipment, computers, and so on.

These versatile products are particularly lightweight, portable and flexible and therefore suitable for commercial, military and disaster relief purposes, as well as for car parks shades or small garden tent structures.

Via Inhabitat. com

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May 1, 2010 - 5:20 PM Comments: Closed

The Japanese Pavilion for Expo 2010

(Source: designboom)

Japan Pavilion is a 24 meters high construction of double-layer ETFE cushions mounted on a lightweight steel frams. With its approximately 6,000m² plot It will be among the largest of all foreign pavilions at Expo 2010 Shanghai China.

More after the break.

Continue Reading “The Japanese Pavilion for Expo 2010″

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December 21, 2009 - 12:13 PM Comments: Closed

lighttube by Arch. Marco Hemmerling

(Text and photos courtsy of Arch. Marco Hemmerling)

(Photo by Michel Bobilier)

(Photo by Martial Trezzini)

(Photo by Michel Bobilier)

(Photo by Michel Bobilier)

Last weekend the installation lighttube has been inaugurated at the 9th annual Festival “Arbres et Lumières” in Geneva, Switzerland. The concept for the illumination at Square Pierre Fatio in the city center is based on two major aspects of spatial perception. In first place the installation amplifies the relation between the central column and the surrounding trees. By reinforcing the correlation of the trees with the centre of the square, the light membrane structure focuses on the connection of the vertical elements of the site. The second aspect of the design aims to an added value, which is brought in with the new element of the lighttube. Even though being a connector, the lighttube manages to establish its own quality, which formally derives from the evolutionary principle of growth. The abstract idea of ramification is transformed into an integral shape that puts the trees as well as the column and the space in between in a new light. The light concept incorporates a constant change of color for the illuminated trees and the membrane structure to support the idea of evolutionary transformation and generates at the same time an ever-changing perception of the scenery. Next to other installations, lighttube will be exposed in Geneva until January 3rd.

(Photo by Michel Bobilier)

(Photo by Michel Bobilier)

(Photo by Michel Bobilier)

(Photo by Michel Bobilier)

Marco Hemmerling (1970) studied architecture and interior design. Before setting up his own practice in Cologne, he worked at the firm UN Studio and was, among others, co-head of design and execution of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Since 2007 he teaches and conducts research as Professor of Architecture & Design Interior at the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences. Marco Hemmerling intervenes in various universities and conferences across Europe and in South America.


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December 4, 2009 - 2:43 PM Comments: Closed

Hot Air


(Credit: HotAir2009 on Flickr)

HOT AIR is an iconic head-shaped inflatable and inhabitable monument, Designed by Anca Trandafirescu, an architect and assistant professor in architecture at the University of Michigan, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism in Romania.


(Credit: HotAir2009 on Flickr)

The idea behind Trandafirescu’s design of an anonimous head of an overthrown statute is that “the contradictions of optimism AND instability inherent in Romania’s political change are reflected in the mass, material, and construction of a symbolic image filled with HOT AIR.”

The project was mounted on Noveber 3-7 2009 in Piata Victoriei, Timisoara, Romania where the first large demonstrations in the country took place and eventually led to the fall of the dictatorship.



(Credit: HotAir2009 on Flickr)

Hot Air was realized in association with the city ’s Young Artists/Young Democracy expo and the American-Romanian Music Festival with the support of the city of Timisoara, Romania, the University of Michigan through the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.


(Credit: HotAir2009 on Flickr)

The designer herself with the assistance of Le Nguyen built this impressive inflatbale structure manualy. The patterning and cutting of the polyethylene plastic sheets was done exclusively by hand, using physical models, and the welding was done with a simple household iron.

chromocranium from HOT AIR 2009 – Anca T on Vimeo.

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December 1, 2009 - 1:06 PM Comments: Closed

…and More about the U2 360° Design

An interactive graphic illustration on L.A. Times explains the construction phases of the U2 360° tour stage. See  link.

…and in case you wondered, I’m not a U2 enthusiast or anything like that…

The stage is cool though.

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November 4, 2009 - 4:19 PM Comments: Closed

More about U2’s 360° LED Screen

Two interesting videos on the making of the innovative 360° LED screen designed for U2 (see my previous post) and an interview with the design team.

For more info see Barco’s website – the company who provided the 500,000 pixels integrated in the transformable screen structure.

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November 4, 2009 - 12:28 PM Comments: Closed

U2 360° Space Station by STUFISH

(Source: STUFISH)

(Credit: Fran Simó on Flickr)

(Credit: Fran Simó on Flickr)

Architect Mark Fisher designed this stunning colossal stage for U2 360° Tour.

This futuristic set, nicknamed “The Claw”, is the tallest stage ever built for a rock concert, and it took almost three years to realize. Bono christened it the “U2 Space Station”.

Some might notice a slight incongruity between U2’s environmental/humanitarian activity and this extravaganza… but who cares, it looks great.

The elliptical 436,5m² stage was placed in the center of the arena, avoiding the conventional end-stage stadium show, in order to guarantee a better view to anyone in the crowd. This solution leaves the band free to move in any direction and maintain a greater intimacy with the surrounding audience, despite the scale of the show.

(Credit: jas_gd on Flickr)

(Credit: jas_gd on Flickr)

Willie Williams the show director got the inspiration for the supporting structure from the 1961 LAX theme restaurant in L.A. Airport (USA) by architect James Langenheim / Pereira + Luckman, he imagined a similar structure, with the legs spanning clear across the full width of a football field so that both band and audience stood beneath the structure, with the entire production equipment (sound, lights and video screen) hanging above the band. The conventional supporting towers would obstruct sightlines from a large number of seats. The structure is 30m high and spans 57.5m. The tip of the central pylon reaches 51.8m. All together it weights 190 tonnes.


LAX theme restaurant in L.A. Airport (1961) by architect James Langenheim / Pereira + Luckman (Source:

The spectacular giant cone-shaped video screen hanging beneath the structure in the void over the stage was designed with artist and engineer Chuck Hoberman. It is made of LED panels mounted on kinetic scissor mesh surface that expand and contracts changing the image density from 100% solid to almost 50% transparent. The video screen is made of 1,000,000 different pieces and weights 74 tonnes.


(Credit: Salomao Nunes on Flickr)

The tensile membrane cladding of the structure allows low packing volume and fast assembly and gives the entire project a strong identifiable expressiveness. The form-finding and detailing of the membrane was done by David Dexter Associates.

Three 4.8m diameter inverted umbrellas were placed below the stage and deployed whenever needed to keep the band and equipment dry. These umbrellas were originally invented by Frei Otto in 1971 for a garden exhibition in Germany.

(Credit: Talie on Flickr)

(Credit: Talie on Flickr)

(Credit: Sam Judson on Flickr)

(Credit: Sam Judson on Flickr)

Touring such a massive structure is logistically very complex. Three sets of the metalwork were built so they could travel in parallel between the cities, each one taking four days to build and two days to take down, with one day in the middle for production load-in and one day for the show. Everything else, the video screen, lighting, sound, stage, etc. (176 tonnes) would be toured separately as universal production, to be loaded in during the 36 hours preceding the show. 201 trucks were needed to move the entire production – equipment, steel systems, barricade and generators.

The first show took place at Camp Nou in Barcelona, on 30 June 2009 in front of a crowd of 90,000 people.


Production Credits:

Show Director/Designer – Willie Williams

Architect – Mark Fisher

Video screen kinetic design – Chuck Hoberman

Structural and membrane engineering – Neil Thomas, Atelier One

Video screen structural engineering – Buro Happold, New York

Membrane form finding – Gavin Sayers, David Dexter

Membrane Fabrication: Architen Landrell Associates

Polyp Mushrooms: Steel Monkey Engineering

Primary Steelwork Fabrication: StageCo

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November 3, 2009 - 12:39 PM Comments: Closed

Michael Elion’s Pink Halo in Paris

(Source: DB online)

Michael Elion's Pink Halo

Michael Elion's Pink Halo (source: BD online)

South African architect Michael Elion designs a 560sq helium filled Halo structure that floats above the National Archives in Paris, as part of the French capital’s Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night arts festival.

The pink fluorescent-lit structure is made of Dtex high tenacity nylon fabric with a polyurethane coating and is stabilized by 12 control cables attached to 100kg concrete weights and a pulley system attached to two trucks, a car and two tonnes of sand which act as ballast.

Made of Dtex high tenacity nylon fabric with a polyurethane coating, the structure is lit with 24 fluorescent lights and controlled by a remote control winch and pulley system attached to a forklift truck, another truck, a car and two tonnes of sand which act as ballast.

Read full article on BD online.

Elion's Halo floating above the National Archives in Paris (source: DB online)

Elion's Halo floating above the National Archives in Paris (source: DB online)

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October 30, 2009 - 12:49 PM Comments: Closed