“BREATHING” is a dynamic installation designed by the Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design Ltd. (LEAD) for Sushibar Ichininmae as part of the RIBA Shanghai Windows Project in Shanghai, Xintiandi. For the second time the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), China Xintiandi and the British Council selected ten architects to develop temporary installations in shops distributed around the Shanghai Xintiandi site.
“BREATHING” is an installation built up from a curling spine, clad with deep blue scales, that surfaces from the atrium floor. Its flexible, colorful skin slowly moves, hypnotically capturing light, reflections and gazes from hectic shoppers. Inhaling . . . Exhaling. . . . Unnoticeable at first, but entrancing once discovered, the installation seems to be alive, as its flanks rise and drop slowly with every breath.
The installation is part of LEAD’s larger body of research on “Building Simplexity,” which explores how combinations of complex digital design and fabrication techniques allow for the construction of architecture that achieves the maximum impact from the simplest of means. “BREATHING” does this by combining a series of very simple elements in a structure that used digital real-time physics engines to simulate and test its dynamic movement. A 12.5m long steel tube defines the structure’s supporting spine. Its geometry is composed of three tangential segments of planar bent tubes, each consisting of three arc segments which allow for easy production. The tube is draped with a fifteen by six meter nylon net with a mesh size of twenty centimeters. Below this, two inflatable half-domes are connected to a motor that inflates the structure for thirty seconds every ninety seconds. On top of this mesh one thousand acrylic scales are fixed in place using parts of standard paper-clips. The scales are all identical in shape, and laser-cut from two tints of blue mirror acrylic, which has been spray-painted matte. The matte mirror catch light and colors differently from the surroundings when the installation moves, resulting in a constantly changing colouration of the dynamic installation. The assembly of the project was done in three nights by a group of twenty volunteers.
“BREATHING” combines familiar architectural elements in the creation of a kinetic installation that is very expressive in its colorful simplicity. It questions the static nature of building envelopes, and the necessity of possible mass-variation through digital fabrication for constructions in contexts with minimal budgets, construction skills, and time.
Additional credits and links:
Design: Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design Ltd. (LEAD).
Design Team: LEAD (Kristof CROLLA & Julien KLISZ).
Project Management and Realization: Ercu Gorgul, MRT design.
Participants: Benjamin Heinrich, Stefan Raab, Kilian Wolf, Zha Yilun, Chen Lixuhan, Zhang Tracy, Gu Chao, Zhang Kaiqin, Zhu Joanna, Shan Mengchu, Chan Danting, Fu Sibo,Tao Yu, Wu Fengzhou, Lee Gamzar, Ning Siyu, Song Rui, Yang Xin, Li Hengye, Li Yuhan.
Organization: The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) i.c.w. China Xintiandi & the British Council.
Client: Sushibar Ichininmae.
Location: Xintiandi, Shanghai.
Display Dates: 28 March–5 May 2014.