Fascinated with the theory of camouflage and interested in how, as a design concept, it could result in the transformation of space, MODU changed the recognizable figure of a barge in a city to an interactive atmospheric phenomenon they titled, ‘Lighter Than Air’. This proposal, which was for “The Barge” competition organized by SHIFTBoston, won first place and will be coming to the Fort Point Channel in Boston in September 2012. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Constructed from florescent pink hunting camouflage netting, stationary bicycles, and balloons, Lighter Than Air will literally float over the Fort Point Channel! Tethered to the barge by ropes and pipes, the balloon structure will sway and hover above the barge like a cloud. This shape shifting design will have the ability to move with the wind and human interaction.
MODU’s installation will provide an active and visually stimulating destination for the otherwise colorless Fort Point Channel. They are planning to use large Mylar balloons filled with helium to ensure that the balloons maintain some buoyancy for the duration of the installation. A series of stationary bicycles, ranging in number from 5 to 30, will be attached to the balloons. As a visitor pedals one of the bikes, the bike will generate energy that will be used to activate a series of pumps. The pumps will then either push vapor or air that will force the balloons to float and drift above the barge. Energy from the bikes will also be stored in batteries below the barge’s surface. This means that if only one visitor is on the barge, the pink cloud will still be able to undulate under the power of a singular person.
The team chose to cover the balloons with pink camouflage because the material is readily available and the bright color will draw attention to the area. Stationary bicycles are also easy to find and the amount placed on the barge can vary in number while not affecting the mechanics of the design. The flexibility and mobility of Lighter Than Air also allows it to be easily transported to different locations for future displays.