Project details

Fabric name: ETFE
Fabric producer: PATI S.p.A.
Fabric supplier: PATI S.p.A.
Engineer: Tom Webster, Aecom
Design: Ceri Richards, Architen Landrell
Architect: Jose Seglas & Lucia Cano, SeglasCano
Fabrication: Neil May, Architen Landrell
Graphics: Massimo Marcato, PATI S.p.A.
Project manager: Bill Brown, Architen Landrell
Installation: Ted Featonby, Stage One
Location: London, UK

Please describe the project specifications.
Working alongside our client, we completed the design, manufacture and installation of the single layer ETFE membrane at the 2015 Serpentine Arthouse Pavilion. Using over 520sqm of ETFE foil printed with 15 different colours of dots, no panel was the same. Each panel was carefully patterned to take the right shape and manufactured with tolerance for a ‘rock and pop’ style installation process. In addition, Architen Landrell printed 2.8km of ETFE ribbons to form the web of criss-crossed strips that adds texture and interest to the panels. In summary: – 520 m2 ETFE foil in 15 colours – 22 km of ETFE foil welding – 2.8 km Printed ETFE ribbons in 17 colours – Extensive R&D to ascertain best material & printing results

What was the purpose of this project? What did the client request?
Part of a 15 year tradition of temporary structures erected in Hyde Park, home to the renowned Serpentine Sackler gallery, a pavilion is built each year. Since 2000 the Serpentine Gallery has commissioned a temporary pavilion every year, choosing a leading architect with no completed buildings in England to showcase their work. A much-anticipated landmark in London each summer, the Pavilion is one of the top-ten most visited architectural and design exhibitions in the world. The 2015 pavilion brief was to create a pavilion which focused on visitor experience, playing with structure, light, transparency, form, colour and materials to create a playful, party pavilion. In addition, as the 15th anniversary of the pavilion tradition, the architects were clear that the ‘structure therefore had to be – without resembling previous Pavilions – a tribute to them all and a homage to all the stories told within those designs.’ We were brought in to help contractors Stage One to realise this vision through the design and manufacture of the membrane. We were tasked with finding a material which was transparent, printable, flame retardant, flexible and strong enough to form these complex shapes.

What is unique or complex about the project?
The 2015 Serpentine Pavilion is the first to feature ETFE foil as a major component in the works, however, this did not come without its challenges. As each panel was entirely unique and pushing the boundaries of membrane design and fabrication, we had to spend time researching the ideal fabric choice and approach to design. A huge number of materials were researched from PVC to PTFE, PVDF to (eventually) ETFE in order to obtain one with the required strength, light transmission, clarity and printing capability. But material choice was not the most complex aspect of this design; the extremely complicated form required precise patterning and connection detailing before it could be manufactured Working alongside our client, we completed the design, manufacture and installation in an incredibly tight time frame, 3 months from concept development to completion. Fitting of the panels was performed by a crew of specialists provided by Stage One and overseen by us.

What were the results of the project?
Architects Jose Seglas & Lucia Cano have designed an undulating organic form, experimenting with space-age materials and striking array of colour combinations (unusual in the world of architecture). The emphasis is not only the structure itself, it also focuses on the interaction with people as they pass through. The translucency of the ETFE foil allows the reflected/transmitted light to ‘play’ with the interior canvas (the white resin floor is highly reflective to create just that – a canvas). Critically this years design has been well received and audiences have been wowed by the futuristic and wacky approach to meeting the brief. Described as ‘a rainbow wormhole ready to suck you into another dimension’, ‘a psychedelic pupa’ and a ‘beguiling, colour-changing maze’ this year’s pavilion is definitely not going unnoticed.

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