The Flying Mast

(insane in the membrane...)

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

The “Sun Valleys” at the World Expo 2010

(Source: People's Daily Online)

(Source: People's Daily Online)

This is the first of six 40 meters tall cone-shaped canopies named “Sun Valleys” that are being built in Shanghai for the 2010 World Expo.
The “Sun Valleys” will be distributed along the Expo Axis, a multi-story 1 km long and 110 meters wide promenade providing commercial, catering, entertainment, and exhibition services for the millions of visitors expected to attend the forthcoming event.


(Source: People's Daily Online)

This covered pedestrian walkway will be the main entrance to the Expo site and will connect with four major pavilions through the elevated platform and underground passages. With its nearly 250,000 square meters, it is the largest structure being built for the venue.

(Source: People's Daily Online)

(Source: People's Daily Online)

Above the Expo Axis the giant light membrane roof will look like, as the organizers promis, “white clouds floating in the blue sky”.

The steel and plastic “Sun Valleys”, as the name suggest, will convey daylight and air into the underground level in order to reduce the energy consumed by the artificial lighting. Further, they will collect rainwater that could be recycled for irrigation and flushing purposes.

Each of these complex structures is made of approximaely 10,000 joins, all which are unique.

Sources: World Architecture News, China Daily, Inhabitat, People’s Daily Online.

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November 14, 2009 - 12:21 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

A New Blog

I would like to draw your attention to this very interesting new blog about textile architecture and complex structures from my friends at QL Ingeniería – an engineering firm from Murcia, Spain. Check it out!


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November 3, 2009 - 12:53 AM Comments: Closed

Luxurious Nomadism

(Source: Dezeen)

A compact foldout canvas holiday home designed by Belgian architect Axel Enthoven and baptized “Opera” for its resemblance to Utzon’s Sydney Opera House.


(Source: Dezeen)

Although the motto chosen by the project’s creators – “Your Suite in Nature” – sounds somewhat anachronistic in the current global economic climate, and even if terms like “luxury”, “first class” and ” exclusive” have rather good-old-pre-recession-days resonance to them (not to say sarcastic), I have to admit that it is a pretty cool idea and an interesting interpretation of textile architecture.


(Source: Dezeen)

The design will be on show at the Design at Work trade fair in Kortrijk, Belgium, in December, and is planned to go into production in 2010.


(Source: Dezeen)


Some more info from Opera’s designer:

Multiple award-winner Axel Enthoven designs new mobile holiday home
Opera offers freedom in nature with 100 percent luxury.

is not a tent, not a caravan and not a motor home. The new mobile holiday home designed by Axel Enthoven has been christened Opera for its striking shape, reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House. The subtitle chosen is Your Suite in Nature to suggest the best of hotel rooms, but in the heart of nature in this case. The Opera allows you to stay in the most beautiful places, but with the luxury of a wine cabinet, warm-air heating, espresso bar and an enclosed teak veranda. This nomadic, contemporary living tent offers the quality of a luxury yacht combined with the outdoor feeling of camping under canvas. The Opera will be presented for the first time at the Design at Work trade fair in Kortrijk in December.


(Source: Dezeen)

The finishing touches are currently being put to the first Operas, which are being made completely by hand in Geldrop in the Netherlands. Only first class materials like hardwood, stainless steel and leather are used in production. The dimensions of the Opera are magical. When it has opened and levelled itself by electric power – inside 5 minutes and without tent pegs, stabilizer jacks and loose tent poles – what you see is a residence measuring 7 metres long, more than 3 metres wide and 3.5 metres high with every conceivable luxury: two first class and electrically adjustable beds that become one with a single simple movement, hot and cold water, ceramic toilet, LED lighting and a mobile hob and barbecue, for example, for cooking outside. An exclusive, small number of Operas will go into production in 2010.

The mobile holiday home will be supplied with what is known as the Opera Guide, which presents a selection of exclusive sites with information about good restaurants and picturesque destinations in the surrounding area.


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November 1, 2009 - 6:27 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

Mars Attack!

Breaking news:

An UFO is reported to have landed on top of a shopping mall in Dessau, Germany!

Authorities are investigating on the object’s origin. NASA has yet to comment on the incident.

Here are the first images of the object:

Further investigation reveals that “The UFO” is apparently a new architectural project designed as an eye-catching landmark for the city’s new shopping center.

This 30m long and 15m wide tensile structure consists of two layers of membrane supported on a metal frame. The upper membrane is a Ferrari Textile type II, while the lower membrane is a mesh fabric.

The project was design by Prof. Arch. Robert Off, director of IMS Institute and head of the the Master of Membrane Structures, held at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences.

The structure was manufactured and erected by CARPRO.

The design is intended as a tribute to Junkers GmbH, the German aircraft manufacturer, founded in 1895 in Dessau, and is inspired by the shape of an aeroplane’s wing.

The above images were taken during the installation phase. The membranes are mounted on the metal frame, but still have to be tensioned.

The project is expected to be completed in the next few days.

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May 5, 2009 - 12:41 AM Comments: Closed

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