The client for the Arts Alliance mobile venue set a tough brief. The structure had to be capable of being erected within two weeks and when demounted it had to fit inside a reasonable number of shipping containers for transportation across the world. It also had to be of the highest quality architecturally.
Working with Various Architects, who are based in Norway, together with specialist contractor ESS, we developed a structural concept that has met the challenge. The travelling theatre has an ultra low-weight steel roof with radiating steel tension spokes and a perimeter steel structure, like a bicycle wheel. The exterior skin is self-supporting and consists of a web of inflatable fabric tubes coated in PVC, with translucent inflated pillows as infill. Aluminium portal frames are used for bracing.
The Arts Alliance theatre is believed to be the largest mobile entertainment venue in the world — in plan it measures 90m by 40m. It will provide a spectacular environment for the public and artists alike. It has another trick up its sleeve too: effectively composed of a kit of parts, small sections of the structure can be erected as self-stable entities and hired out for smaller events.
Our client, digital film distributor Arts Alliance, wanted a lightweight, easily transportable venue to house its new performance of ID: Identity of the Soul on a worldwide tour.
The brief required a structure that would meet the technical requirements for video projection and surround sound during live performances, as well as accommodating up to 3,500 people. It had to be possible to erect the structure within two weeks and when demounted it had to fit inside a reasonable number of shipping containers for ease of transportation.
Oslo-based practice Various Architects proposed a dynamic oval form within an inflatable PVC outer skin. This skin is self-supporting and consists of a web of fabric tubes coated in PVC, with translucent inflatable pillows as infill. Our challenge was to determine a structurally efficient layout of façade elements, the size and pattern of which must repeat as much as possible to make fabrication cost effective and error free.
The sweeping curved shape of the building envelope meant that fitting a repeatable pattern where the members were the same size and length was difficult. Our practical research into material packing and form-finding coupled with a shared parametric model meant the design team could work collaboratively to refine the overall shape and pattern until the desired effect was achieved.
Applying a 2D hexagonal tiling pattern efficiently to an irregular 3D form required a well-reasoned methodology. We created a bespoke algorithm to achieve the desired aesthetic, while also optimising structural efficiency and minimising materials use.