A white orbed pavilion called the Pillar of Dreams has been erected in Charlotte, North Carolina. New York based design studio The Very Many created the 7m wide and 13m deep structure, which is made of two layers of thin aluminium, perforated and layered on top of each other to create a single bulbous form. The inside of the pavilion is stacked with soft blue and pink bulbs.
Nine hollow legs support the mass of differently sized globes that merge together. While the orbs look like they are filled with air, they are in fact created with a continuous structural skin of 3mm aluminium that is 11 000m long. The design team’s intent was to create a “cloud-like formation” that hovers on the grass outside the Valerie C Woodard Centre.
“It appears to float like balloons,” said the studio of the structure, which is white outside and features a gradient of sky blue and soft peach and pink hues inside.
The structure of the self-supporting lightweight form is credited to the patterning and layering of the structural stripe system. An initial mesh is segmented into parts and then formed into stress bearing linear and nonlinear stripes. The tightly curved segments forming the surface of the bubbles provide a network to allow for a porosity that allows in the light. Stripes unfurl as they descend into deanse, linear columns, capable of supporting loads.
After digital segmentation stripes are laser cut, curved and powder coated forming precise durable puzzle pieces. Part by part, the work is riveted together in walking assembly, each piece supporting the next. Assembly does not require any temporary scaffolding or heavy machinery, only ordered placement. Timing is an essential part of the construction; each stripe relies on the position of the surrounding parts to fit.
Visitors can walk up underneath the pale shell of bulbs by cutting across the property from sidewalks.
“From a distance, the structure strikes a soft tone, but the viewer can still register the pulsing glow of the gradient within. The intensity of colour grows as one nears the pavilion and finally envelopes the viewer upon entry,” said The Very Many.
The two thin aluminium kins are perforated with computation patterns that form an intricate design when layered on top of each other. The skins become thinner and more open with its perforations, “like bubblegum blown just to the point of popping” as the volumes swell up top. The perforations become more densely packed where the orbs merge, lending structural integrity to the pavilion.
“As they come together at seams and make their way to the ground, they find alignment as linear stripes,” said the studio.
Seating areas have been incorporated into the legs of the structure. The geometric patterns filter sun into the space and cast shadows, which offers relief from the warm North Carolina sun in the summer.
Founded in 2004 by New York architect Marc Fornes, The Very Many is an art and architecture studio specialising in digital fabrication and computational design. The original work was commissioned by Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in partnership with the City of Charlotte/Mecklenburg Public Art Commission and Arts and Science Council.
The Very Many
Photos credits: NAARO