Architect and artist Marc Fornes has created “minima | maxima,” a site-specific installation made of ultra-thin powdered aluminum in composite layers. Not exactly “fabric,” but the TED Fellow’s concept in construction mimics the behavior of fabric, but with a structural strength that almost defies gravity.
The exhibit in Astana, Kazakhstan, was first presented during the World Expo 2017. It extends the artist’s research and development into achieving structural integrity through ultra-thin, self-supporting structures with durable curves that eliminate the need for columns and beams. The carefully-designed transition from pleated base to continuous surface allows the structure to reach a height of 43 feet, which is approximately equal to a four-story building.
The surface is made of aluminum just 6 millimeter. “If an egg were scaled up to the same height as the project, it would be much thicker,” according to the design team. “The system warrants comparison to fiber technology— such as carbon or glass— yet is unique in that unlike fibers, each individual component does not need to be in tension.”
World Expo 2017 is an event that showcases architectural and engineering innovations. The structure will remain a permanent installation on the site.
Fornes is a registered and practicing architect specializing in computational design and digital fabrication. He leads MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY, the NYC-based studio recognized for creating temporary and permanent “Crawling Assemblies” that combine art and architecture, and that unify surface, structure and spatial experience into a single system.