Companies such as Monsanto are pushing the parameters of agricultural biotechnology to develop to ‘super’ crops which are able to survive in conditions that previously they would have perished within. This depicts a positive image of a global agricultural firm such as Monsanto, though this is predominately not the case and although the new developments in crop growth is perceived to be the future it is as highly critised and linked to names such as ‘Frankenstein foods’. Can a technology giant/charity like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation compete against a global agricultural giant like Monsanto and provide an equal competitor? The ‘Floating Earth Islands’ provide the opportunity to harvest a GM free alternative for Maize crop growth whilst also providing habitats for the fish in the Kafue River, which the Twa Tribe farm. As the floods recede and the land is returned to a harvestable condition the Twa Tribe can inhabit the clay pot structures that once were required to prevent the floods from destroying the tribes crops and livelihood.
“The Windshape pavilion by nARCHITECTS stretched across the limestone walls of Lacoste, France like a luminous billowing spider’s web. The temporary pavilion was commissioned by theSavannah College of Art and Design for their Provence Campus. The net-like structures were used by students and townspeople alike as a cultural center and meeting space.
Perched at the top of Lacoste on the castle of the Marquis de Sade, the Windshape pavilion was composed of thread-like walls made from a simple assortment of materials – including white plastic pipes, aluminum braces, and threaded string. Woven from gauzy nets, the pavilion was designed to move and morph in the local wind, creating a spectacular art installation for the locals to enjoy. The surfaces of the pavilion would ripple, move, and even make noise, depending on the speed of the winds that blew through it.
Over the course of five weeks, SCAD students worked closely with nARCHITECTS to install Windshape. The netted arcs took shape through bending and tension, and they were held in place by steel structural collars that ensured the structure’s sturdiness. The strings were woven to provide enclosed spaces as well as more open areas to vary the usage of the different parts of the temporary pavilion.
The resulting pavilion was a translucent web embellishing the Medieval architecture of the historic town. Taking advantage of these new meeting points, the town used the space was used to host concerts, exhibitions and ceremonies. At night, Windshape was illuminated and visible to neighboring towns miles away.”
In reference to economy of materials, rapid deployment, self sufficiency, interactivity and leave no trace aspects of the ten day Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert I have explored vacuumatically prestressed structures (vacuumatics) to create a temporary structure.
Using minimal materials, a Balloonwrap cloud would encourage maximum participation during the construction and throughout the festival. An ephemeral soft cloud like landscape, where participants delight in modifying the shape as well as being able to interact with the structure by lying down, dancing on, climbing and sitting inside the enclosure.
As documented in the film above, Balloonwrap is a vacuumatic structure made using Polythene sheets at 63 microns, 5m x 3.65m, with balloons as the filling. A large scale model here is made rigid enough to span gaps, flexible enough to bend back on itself and strong enough to act as a seat or even a bed.
The material could therefore be used as the floor, wall, roof and seating elements in a continuous loop for any installation with the added benefit that it would have good thermal insulation as well as solar reflective potential (using silver/white reflective balloons/opaque film).
The main advantages of Balloonwrap are form flexibility and adaptability. An important factor that determines its adaptability is the flexibility control. Without any negative pressure (0% vacuum) the balloons inside the polythene enclosure possess hardly any consistency and are able to flow freely inside this skin. By increasing the amount of vacuum pressure the consistency of the balloons gradually increases, resulting in a more or less plastic behaviour of the structure. This enables the structure to be shaped while keeping its newly given form. Finally, in fully deflated state (100% vacuum) the Balloonwrap becomes rigid, with balloons used as a filling in my experiments, it is possible to climb the rigid load-bearing structure and sit comfortably! The reversibility of this rigidifying process enables the Balloonwrap to be re-shaped all over again.