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Inflatable Structures: The Latest Architecture and News

City of the Future Elaborates on Responsive Architecture

City of the Future is a bi-weekly podcast from Sidewalk Labs that explores ideas and innovations that will transform cities.

In the final episode of season 2, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the past, present, and future of responsive architecture with Sidewalk Labs’ director of public realm Jesse Shapins, engineer and microclimate expert Goncalo Pedro, Bubbletecture author Sharon Francis, and renowned architect Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

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

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 & FRPOSpanish Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Selgascano & FRPOSpanish Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Selgascano & FRPOSpanish Pavilion+ 22

Inflatable Arches Chosen to Reimagine St. Catherine Street Construction Site

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 KANVACourtesy of KANVACourtesy of KANVACourtesy of KANVA+ 12

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

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 FantastiqueCourtesy of Plastique FantastiqueCourtesy of Plastique FantastiqueCourtesy of Plastique Fantastique+ 8

BIG-Designed Inflatable Pavilion Lights Up Roskilde Festival

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

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 MuseumCourtesy of Norwegian National MuseumCourtesy of Norwegian National MuseumCourtesy of Norwegian National Museum+ 10

Bubble Building / 3GATTI Architecture Studio

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

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

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

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.