Between Forests and Skies (2021)

Client: Littlehampton Welding Ltd
Architect: Nebbia Works
Location: London, UK

Date: 2021-09-20 00:00:00 +0000 UTC
Tags: Public art, sculpture, steel, timber

Nebbia Works were commissioned by the V&A to design an immersive, low carbon aluminum pavilion to be part of the London Design Festival 2021 in the John Madejski Garden.

In their words: “The design uses a minimal volume of material to create a seemingly delicate yet robust structure to demonstrate the unique qualities of aluminum. The structure is self-supporting, utilising the innate strength of the aluminum despite its razor thin profile. The space formed is a manufactured forest, an unnatural imitation of our natural environment. The reflectivity of the aluminium is mirrored in the reflectivity of the water. The experience of the pavilion is a dreamlike state between the sky and the reflection of the sky; the world and the reflection of the world. It shifts and changes throughout the day as the environment and activities that are reflected around it change.”

The pavilion is formed from 27 sheets of 20mm thick aluminium plate from which the legs are formed by waterjet cutting then bending. The aluminium used for the project is from the first batch of “Inert Anode” aluminium from EN+ Group member Rusal. EN+ state that the carbon produced during the smelting process is only 0.01 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per ton of metal. This reduction results in a cradle-to-gate value of only 2.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per ton of metal, a huge reduction compared to typical industry figures.

We worked with designers Nebbia, the team at the V&A and our direct clients Littlehampton Welding Ltd to engineer the structure. Key steps were our work on the algorithmic optimisation of leg position and then very careful and minimal structural detailing to ensure that the designer’s ambitions were maintained throughout the project. Their interaction with the engineering and fabrication-detailing process was a true collaboration where the final design demonstrates the affordances of the selected material and fabrication processes.

Photo 1 by Peter Kelleher. Photos 2-5 by Ed Reeve.

Annoucements and Press:

The project has been widely covered and articles with further details on the installation can be found at the following links:

Project Credits:

  • Primary Sponsor and Material Supplier: EN+ Group
  • Cork Seating: Amorium Cork Insulation SA
  • Designer: Nebbia Works
  • Project Commissioner and Curator: Meneesha Kellay (V&A)
  • Project Manager: Catriona Macdonald (V&A)
  • Fabrication and Installation: Littlehampton Welding Ltd
  • Structural Engineering: Format Engineers

Project Video: