At just 2.5 tonnes (heavy for a beetle, light for a 200 sq.m. canopy), it’s an airy cobweb hanging in the far corner of the courtyard. But its glasshouse-frail appearance is deceptive. Built from white strands of glass fibre (sailing boats) and black strands of carbon fibre (rocket ships), the material could last fifty years and be used to top sports arenas- from the Madejski garden to the Madejski Stadium, then.
It was made by a robot, with the help of human underlings. You can see the robot on display too, slowly weaving new cells for the roof.
Because the pavilion is going to grow. The robot takes between three and four hours to weave each new cell on its monstrous loom and what it makes will be dictated by its surroundings, by data gathered from sensors on the roof of the existing structure.
The engineers themselves, a structural one, a climate one and an experimental architect, don’t give a straight answer about how the robot decides what to weave next: “this is a live research project… there’s not a direct answer to that”. Is this worrying?
Under the façade of the Victorian buildings that saw the industrial revolution, the new pavilion ushers in a new age, “we’re experiencing right now another paradigm shift… the 4th industrial revolution”.
The pavilion kicks off the V&A’s new foray into engineering. It will be interesting to see if blueprints and prototypes can pull in the same numbers as underwear or Botticelli.
|What||Elytra Filament Pavilion review, V&A|
|Where||V&A, South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
18 May 16 – 06 Nov 16, 10:00 AM – 5:45 PM
|Website||Click here for more information|