Among bubbles

One of the most interesting and inoovative research centers investigating landscape and architecture, Materials & Applications (more about them in this interview of Oliver Hess), is working on a new open-air interactive installation due to open on Friday, September 15th.

0bubboi89h.jpgBubble is an adaptable spatial pneumatic installation made of large air bags or bubbles that inflate and deflate in reaction to the visitors coming to the site. As visitors enter and move through the installation, they must navigate the 6′ to 8’ diameter spheres that fill the space. When the bubbles are bumped, sensors initiate a chaotic exchange of air between the spheres. If approached the section the visitor is closest to deflates offering a pathway into the installation. A ramp allows visitors to move up into the space and be completely surrounded by bubbles. When no visitors are present, the system returns to a state of equilibrium.

The installation aims at bringing an adaptive volumetric sense of architecture to the installation site that is continuously changing and compelling as it responds to visitors. The adaptability of the bubbles emulates at a super-human scale the organic thigmotropism of plant life.

0bubbblopl.jpgBuilding the bubbles

The bubbles are made of permeable rip-stop nylon. At their center is a hard “seed” made of laser cut white HDPE plastic and strengthened with monofilament. The seed serves two functions: it contains a micro-fourescent lighting element to make the bubble glow, and it houses the sensor used to trigger the fan that deflates one bubble while inflating another.

Bubbles is a work by Foxlin (Michael Fox and Juintow Lin) and NONDesigns (Miao Miao and Scott Franklin) with Axel Kilian, Gabriel Renz, Darius Miller, and numerous talented volunteers.

Follow the progress of the installation on their blog. Go and see the final result at Materials & Applications in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, opens September 15th, 2006, 6-10pm.

And because inflatable never goes out of style: Constructing reconfigurable space; Inflatable canopy; Inflatable paper sculptures, etc.