British architect Amanda Levete has unveiled her plan for a high-tech forest canopy at Melbourne’s 2015 MPavilion. The canopy will be a series of three and five-meter wide petals made out of ultra-thin, translucent CFRP composites.
The structure will “sway” in the breeze, responding to the climate and landscape changes. The CFRP petals will light up at night, creating a halo-like effect created by LED strips forming from the capital to the column. The petals will also be turned into speakers and play sound, with all wiring to be hidden within the slim carbon fiber columns.
Levete, who is best known for her redesign of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum entrance and the sci-fi inspired media center at Lord’s Cricket Ground, collaborated with Brisbane-based mouldCAM – a tech company with experience in 3D design and technology and working with advanced composite materials to create complex shapes and structures for grand-prix level boats. They also have used composites for renewable energy and automotive applications.
MouldCAM managing director Toby Whitfield and his partner, Jaime Marina were initially challenged by Levete’s vision. Because the petals would appear slender and fragile, the canopy would need a design that subverts “the norms of immovable.” Whitfield believed that CFRP petals would embrace and move with the wind instead of resisting it.
“We had to use material [that] allows flexibility without threatening strength,” explained Whitfield. “The MPavilion is a beautiful example of how new materials and technology can be taken outside of their normal application to deliver extraordinary and unique results.”
Naomi Milgrom, Chair of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation who commissioned Amanda Levete to design the pavilion, added that the MPavilion is the result of inventive and experimental risk tasking that will hopefully spark design debate in the architecture community.
The 2015 MPavilion will be open for the public in Queen Victoria Gardens, where it will play host to different public events and programs, from October 5 until February 7, 2016.