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Inflatable Structures: The Latest Architecture and News

Selgascano + FRPO Design Inflatable Canopy for Spain's EXPO 2020 National Pavilion

03:30 - 2 October, 2018
Selgascano + FRPO Design Inflatable Canopy for Spain's EXPO 2020 National Pavilion, Spanish Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Selgascano & FRPO
Spanish Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Selgascano & FRPO

Architecture firms Selgascano and FRPO have been announced as a finalist in the competition to design Spain's National Pavilion for EXPO 2020 in Dubai. Their proposal includes an inflatable canopy of nine yellow ETFE cylinders set within a steel framework. Reinterpreting the Spanish plaza, the design creates a new take on the public square. The pavilion was made to be ultralight as a more sustainable structure that could be easily removed and transported. Formed as a 'breathing pavilion', the design allows two inflatables to move up and down to respond to views, light and breeze.

Spanish Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Selgascano & FRPO Spanish Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Selgascano & FRPO Spanish Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Selgascano & FRPO Spanish Pavilion + 22

Inflatable Arches Chosen to Reimagine St. Catherine Street Construction Site

06:00 - 10 October, 2016
Inflatable Arches Chosen to Reimagine St. Catherine Street Construction Site, Courtesy of KANVA
Courtesy of KANVA

The City of Montreal has selected KANVA's IMAGO as the winner of Vivre le Chantier Sainte-Cath, a competition seeking to maintain access to and usage of St. Catherine Street, downtown Montreal's primary commercial artery, as it undergoes a four-year construction period. The construction includes infrastructure developments—enhancements to underground infrastructure, new public transit systems, and increased pedestrian access—and while segments of the street will be closed to car traffic, pedestrian paths and all businesses will remain open during construction.

Courtesy of KANVA Courtesy of KANVA Courtesy of KANVA Courtesy of KANVA + 12

Plastique Fantastique Wrap Inflatable Intervention around Historic Sculpture for Helsinki Design Week

16:00 - 16 September, 2016

German collective Plastique Fantastique have created “superKOLMEMEN,” an inflatable structure encircling a historic sculpture in Three Smiths Square (Kolmen sepän aukio) in downtown Helsinki for Helsinki Design Week. Throughout the event, the installation was used as a space for lectures, performances and workshops, as well as a casual gathering place.

Courtesy of Plastique Fantastique Courtesy of Plastique Fantastique Courtesy of Plastique Fantastique Courtesy of Plastique Fantastique + 8

BIG-Designed Inflatable Pavilion Lights Up Roskilde Festival

15:15 - 13 July, 2016
BIG-Designed Inflatable Pavilion Lights Up Roskilde Festival, Courtesy of BIG
Courtesy of BIG

BIG Architects has designed an inflatable mobile pavilion to be displayed at three Danish events, including its original site at the Roskilde Festival 2016. Known as SKUM (Danish for foam), the structure met the challenge of creating an installation that has the ability to be both permanent and fully transportable by creating a whimsical, bubble-like form that can be blown up in just 7 minutes.

AD Classics: Nordic Pavilion at Expo '70 / Sverre Fehn

04:00 - 22 March, 2016
AD Classics: Nordic Pavilion at Expo '70 / Sverre Fehn, Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum
Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum

Though architectural history is replete with bricks, stones, and steel, there is no rule that states that architecture must be ‘solid’. Sverre Fehn, one of the most prominent architects of postwar Norway, regularly made use of heavy materials like concrete and stone masonry in his projects [1]. In this way, his proposal for the Nordic Pavilion at the Osaka World Expo in 1970 could be seen as an atypical exploration of a more delicate structure. Representing a very different aspect of ‘Modernity’ than his usual work, Fehn’s “breathing balloon” pavilion stands not only in contradiction to Fehn’s design canon, but to that of traditional architecture as a whole.

Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum + 10

Bubble Building / 3GATTI Architecture Studio

01:00 - 12 October, 2013
Bubble Building / 3GATTI Architecture Studio, Skyline View. Image Courtesy of 3GATTI
Skyline View. Image Courtesy of 3GATTI

The Bubble Building, a "renovation of a common, old and unattractive building" in the centre of Shanghai, is a simple design containing complex environmental qualities. Unlike a conventional retrofit or renovation, 3GATTI's proposal places inflatables made of white antibacterial technical outdoor nylon, in front of the windows on the existing building. Their concept was to "create an icon-building, a kind of landmark very easy to recognize, a kind of sculpture with a strong character able to detach itself from the boring cityscape" with the ultimate aim to attract customers to rent both the office and commercial spaces.

World's First Inflatable Concert Hall Opening in Japan

00:00 - 1 October, 2013
World's First Inflatable Concert Hall Opening in Japan, Lucerne Festival Ark Nova 2013. Image Courtesy of The Telegraph
Lucerne Festival Ark Nova 2013. Image Courtesy of The Telegraph

The Telegraph reports that a new inflatable concert hall dubbed “Ark Nova," created by the British sculptor Anish Kapoor and Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, is to tour the region of northern Japan that was most affected by the 2011 Tsunami. The hall, which will host world-class concerts, events and workshops, has a single skin membrane that can be easily inflated or deflated as well as seating constructed from local, tsunami-damaged cedar. The opening will take place this week in the coastal town of Matsushima. Learn more about the hall here.

The Yorkshire Diamond / Various Architects

14:30 - 14 February, 2009

Our friends at Various Architects, authors of the innovative Mobile Performance Venue, just shared with us a new inflatable project, currently running up for the Yorkshire Renaissance Pavilion competition. From a total of 87 submissions, the jury selected 5 projects and then narrowed down to 3 finalists. Final results aren´t announced yet – we´ll keep you posted on that.

Their project, named “The Yorkshire Diamond“, has a very particular structure with inflatable tubes forming a diamond-lattice structure, forming a box with an excavated interior, which allows for different configurations.

The architect´s description:

Mobile Performance Venue / Various Architects

14:05 - 29 July, 2008

Various Architects is a collaborative design office based in Norway, and they shared with us a very innovative project: a Mobile Performance Venue. Designed to host the performance “ID – Identity of the soul” (touring worldwide in 2009), the client requested a unique and iconic structure. Also, this venue needs to be mobile, so volume/weight were key on this design developed as a flexible ellipse structured with aluminium frames and an inflatable hexagonal skin.

Once built, it will be the world´s largest mobile performance venue, fitting on 30 standard containers for shipping.

Can´t wait till 2009 to see it? Be sure to check the test inflation of a full scale mock-up, a preview of how it will look like when finished. Below, project description, plans and renderings. Thanks to Jim Dodson from VA for sending this in.