In this unique project the client, digital film distributor Arts Alliance, wanted a lightweight, easily transportable venue to house its new performance of ID: Identity of the Soul on a worldwide tour. The brief required a structure that would meet the technical requirements for video projection and surround sound during live performances, as well as accommodating up to 3,500 people without impeding views of the stage. The structure had to be capable of being erected within two weeks and when demounted it had to fit inside a reasonable number of shipping containers for transportation across the world. It also had to be of the highest architectural quality.
Oslo-based practice, Various Architects proposed a dynamic oval form within an inflatable hexagonal PVC outer skin and drum-like fabric roof. Together with specialist contractor ESS, we developed a structural concept that has met the challenge.
After evaluating a number of different structural options an arrangement of radiating spokes, akin to the wheel of a bicycle, formed by tension cables running between inner and outer steel ring beams supported on steel lattice columns was chosen. The resulting structure is ultra-light, easily transportable and quick to assemble, whilst providing a large, clear space for the theatre area.
The exterior skin is self-supporting and consists of a web of inflatable fabric tubes coated in PVC, with translucent inflatable pillows as infill. To help generate the hexagonal pattern of the pneumatic skin, Generative Components software was used to parametrically control the size and scale of the hexagonal tessellations.
The Arts Alliance theatre is believed to be the largest mobile entertainment venue in the world measuring 90m by 40m on plan and in 2008 won the Spark Award.