Tropical J's Inc. Honolulu, HI

Project Details

Fabric 1


Fabric 2

Producer: Glen Raven Custom Fabrics LLC
Supplier: Trivantage LLC

Design Name
Lance Walters / Jason Selley / Gary Barnes / Tara Cabral

Design Company
University of Hawaii Manoa / Workshop-HI / Tropical J's, Inc.

Architect Name
Lance Walters / Jason Selley

Architect Company
University of Hawaii Manoa / Workshop-HI

Fabrication Name
Tara Cabral, Ola Mahuiki

Fabrication Company
Tropical J's

Project Manager Name
Tara Cabral

Project Manager Company
Tropical J's

Installation Name
Lance Walters / Jason Selley

Installation Company
Lance Walters / Jason Selley

Please describe the project specifications

"Pneumatic-Nomadic" is a large, yet portable inflatable event space that made its debut at the Honolulu Biennial celebration. Its uniquely modified torus form features a large interior ring-shaped gallery space and an open-air center courtyard which is entered from the gallery. Contrasting the opaque black fabric of the gallery, the private courtyard has three silver-colored, upward facing viewing portals designed to reflect the environment and bring light in.

What was the purpose of this project? What did the client request?

The air structure has an inflated volume of 20,400cu ft defined by 6,060sq ft of fabric and can comfortably accommodate 300 guests inside. One criteria for the project was the ability to be easily transportable to facilitate practical relocating from one event to the next. The air structure can be inflated and supported by a single standard box fan installed along an air intake near the rear perimeter wall. Upon deflation, the whole structure can be folded and packed away into a manageable 5’ x 2’ bundle. The fully assembled structure is constructed from 185 unique pieces developed from 36 precisely designed patterns.

What is unique or complex about the project?

Particularly challenging aspects of the project were the scale, complex forms and precision required to assemble the overlapping and encompassing panels of the inflatable. The designers had previously constructed temporary, large scale inflatable assemblies from rolled plastic and were looking to produce a more complex, refined and resilient nylon fabric inflatable structure. Having previously worked together on a tensile-based art installation, the designers approached us due to our CAD, CNC and fabric welding experience as well as our willingness to problem solve new and complex fabric design challenges.

What were the results of the project?

This project was an opportunity to explore a new and unique fabric concept that challenged our manufacturing capacities. Use of CAD and parametric design software (Rhinoceros 3D and Grasshopper) resulted in highly complex forms and details which we were then able to precisely fabricate. We developed and choreographed an assembly process to organize, weld and assemble the large, 185-piece structure. During fabrication and construction, we were also able to engage design students from the University of Hawai'i, furthering our relationship with the school and community. These students gained valuable hands-on experience as well as learning about our own work, methods and relationships with architects and builders. The project has had thousands of visitors and has been exhibited in numerous public locations around Honolulu, including the State Capital Building.

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