Green Void / LAVA

Architects: LAVA – Chris Bosse, Tobias Wallisser and Alexander Rieck
Location: Sydney, Australia
Project year: 2008
Project Team: Chris Bosse, Tobias Wallisser, Alexander Rieck
Collaborators: Jarrod Lamshed, Esan Rahmani, Kim Ngoc Nguyen, Anh Dao Trinh, Erik Escalante Mendoza, Pascal Tures, Mi Jin Chun, Andrea Dorici
Materials: Specially treated high-tech Nylon and light
Area: 300 sqm
Volume: 3,000 sqm
Fabrication and : Mak Max
Photographs: LAVA

Digital Workflow

The project renounces on the application of a structure in the traditional sense. Instead, the space is filled with a 3-dimensional lightweight-sculpture, solely based on minimal surface tension, freely stretching between wall and ceiling and floor.

concept image

The design and fabrication procedure uses state-of-the-art digital workflow; beginning with 3D computer modelling, that is engineered structurally before undergoing a process of computer controlled (CNC) material cutting and mechanical re-seaming.

The computer-model, based on the simulation of complexity in naturally evolving systems, feeds directly into a production-line of sail-making-software and digital manufacturing.

concept image

The product shows a new way of digital workflow, enabling the generation of space out of a lightweight material that requires minimal adjustments onsite to achieve a complete installation in an extremely short time.


LAVA’s process of optimized minimal surface design and CNC (computer numeric code) fabrication technology allows the sculpture to reveal a new dimension in sustainable design practice.

Fulfilling the sustainable agenda of the venue, the work succeeds in its quest for optimum efficiency in material usage, construction weight, fabrication and installation time, while at the same time achieving maximum visual impact in the large atrium space.

The pavilion is easily transportable to any place in the world; can be quickly installed, and is fully reusable.


The sculpture materials consist of a double stretch, 2 way woven that is mechanically attached to specially designed aluminium track profiles. Each profile is suspended from above, and to the side, on 2mm stainless steel cabling.


Since the 1970′s, with Frei Otto’s soap-bubble experiments for the Munich Olympic Stadium, naturally evolving systems have been an intriguing area of design research; something that hasn’t been lost on the team and their fascination with new building typologies and naturally developed structures.

concept image

The installation is a ‘Minimal Surface’ that consists of a tensioned Lycra material, digitally patterned and custom-tailored for the space. Five sides of the sculpture reach out to carefully hover just off the main interior atrium of the Customs House above the model of the city.

The lightweight fabric design follows the natural lines, contours and surface-tension of the fabric. The curves can be seen as the result of invisible bubbles that are translated into an organic 3-dimensional space.

While appearing solid, the structure is soft and flexible and creates highly unusual spaces within customs house, which come to life with projection and lighting.

Rising up to the top level restaurant, a vertical distance of almost 20m, the sculpture provides an intense visual contrast to the beautifully restored heritage interior of Customs House.

The Customs House ‘Media Wall’ is also activated with content detailing the process of design, engineering, fabrication and installation of the sculpture along with the impressive, recent design projects completed by LAVA across 12 video screens.

The whole installation is immersed in a soundscape by sound artist David Chesworth and graphic design by TOKO, and includes the latest 3D works by visual artist Peter Murphy.

Cite: Baraona Pohl, Ethel. "Green Void / LAVA" 16 Dec 2008. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • Contemporary Art

    So it’s basically a sculpture, right? The process and materials are great, but as an artwork it feels arbitrary, as if designed by a committee. The aims for art are different than architecture though. I applaud the interest in art in any case.

  • Richie

    It is a sculpture, though I suppose large-scale sculptures designed for specific spaces like this merit inclusion on an architecture site now and then. It sort of looks like a bizarre alien plant-form parasitically attaching itself to the atrium!

  • sebastian

    really amazing!!! i would like to see the fabrication process. i have to many cuestions…

  • MAD

    is this architecture or decoration?

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  • Anon

    Anish Kapoor could not be reached for comment…

  • aml

    ….why? ….no seriously, why?

  • Nikoz

    am i dreaming or is it a green remake of Anish Kapoor’s piece at the tate modern in 2002 …

  • C.K. Avangado

    Looks very “new style” for me, great work.

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  • scarpasez

    Shrek wants his ears back.

  • Des

    Kapoor ripoff

  • J
  • Selwyn

    Very Interesting Art Installation!

    Applause for the Designers


  • Maria-Louiza Laopodi

    No matter if it is ‘taken’ or ‘inspired’ from anyone’s previous work, it still is a great work and statement in space with a very interesting technology behind it.

  • jay

    its a art installation/skulpture, made by designers/architects in a Kapoor/Snøhetta edition.

    Great technology/statement!

  • Ethel Baraona Pohl

    Hi friends!
    The work of Chris Bosse (one of the LAVA team) has always been related to organic forms and this projects has previous studies that you can see in his web-site, it’s not a copy of Kapoor… I think maybe ideas and inspiration are always around and sometime this kind of similarity just happens!

    Take a look at the Entry pavillion or Moet Marquee here:

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  • Daniel

    The engineering design and fabrication process is explained further at

  • chris

    this does some great things for that space, It would be great if you could walk through it.

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  • otto

    check frei otto soap experiment
    20 years before kappor

    check minimal surface theory

  • MR001

    Although a beautiful sculptural form, it is in the realm of art.. but not at all original.. and almost definitely a copy of the groundbreaking Anish Kapoor installation in the Tate Modern.. with the vital exception of the interaction it gave to the visitors in London..

    This is an interesting investigation into minimal sufaces and materials, but in my opinion it’s reduced to mere decoration for the atrium space. Something to look at and reflect light. Harsh but fair.

  • chickmagnetstuff

    is that a phlem?

  • hotchily

    does anybody know what programm they use for the cutting patterns ?

  • Daniel

    It is a proprietary software developed by MakMax. It is used in conjunction with finite element analysis software.

  • max

    i went to visit today
    it is totally unreal and looks different from every side
    check out from every level.
    super nice food at cafe sydney upstairs too.
    and harbourview!

  • dada


  • otto

    absolutely fabulous proposal is this for real?
    or good photoshop?

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