The project exploits the possibilities of Barrisol stretch material. Our digital investigations into a variety of forms resulted in a precisely curved aluminium framework stretch-mounted with a sheet of Barrisol material and incorporating an LED light strip to form a pure, highly volumetric, light-weight, hanging light that not only illuminates its immediate surroundings but also enhances their acoustics. We also constructed a pavilion with a highly sculptural facade and acoustically performing internal walls in order to investigate the material’s potential for external use.
Barrisol is the world’s leading manufacturer of stretched ceilings. The material has an inherent capacity to appear illuminated and attached to buildings while providing acoustic dampening. It is mainly used for ordinary interior spaces as a flat, horizontal sheet that offers a lightweight and easyto- install alternative to other hung ceiling systems. By intensively studying the stretch behaviour of the material, we found that it had an ability to take the form of minimal surfaces, as they are known in mathematical terms. This means that while the sheet itself is flat, when it is cut out with precision and mounted in a highly controlled way, it can create three-dimensional volumetric shapes. The goal of this project is to illustrate the inherent value of this material by using advanced manufacturing technology, such as numerically controlled cutting and digitally controlled threedimensional bending machines to achieve a high level of precision on an architectural scale. Together with the stretch behaviour of the material, seen in the first iteration of the design, this results in beautiful large-scale lighting objects, which illuminate and enhance the acoustic quality of the spaces that they inhabit. The Barrisol stretch foil and the tubular three-dimensional framework form a coherent entity. These lights are showcased in a pavilion-type installation at the Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk, Belgium, which is also built by Barrisol, in order to highlight the possible applications of the material. In its entirety, the project explores a variety of different properties of Barrisol’s stretch-foil materials, such as mirroring, acoustic dampening and exceptional translucency.
—Christoph Hermann,Head of Parametric Design,Lovegrove Studio, London, 2014
Manta creates a perfect synergy between material and structure. In this light, Barrisol foils with different intensities of stretch provide highly layered acoustic dampening and uniform lighting. This slim framework forms a rhomboid, which allows for many different large modular arrangements. In doing so, it offers a lightweight alternative for hung ceilings in large spaces, as seen in airports, halls and factories.
The infinite loop is a highly volumetric, three-dimensional light, created from a perfect synergy between the stretch material, LED lighting and metal framework. The aluminium frame is built out of a single continuous metal loop, which holds the LED strip light source. The surrounding Barrisol skin forms a moebiustype volumetric object. Three different types of loops, ranging from horizontal to vertical structures, have potential for customization. This makes them adaptable for a wide variety of architectural spaces, including hotel lobbies, halls and high-rise atriums.
construction visuals By intensively studying the stretch behaviour of the Barrisol material, the team found that it had an ability to take the form of minimal surfaces, as they are known in mathematical terms. This means that while the sheet itself is flat, when it is cut out with precision and mounted in a highly-controlled way, it can create 3D volumetric shapes. Parametric modelling programs (digital systems that generate geometries based upon an initial input of data) were then used to determine the form of the lights. Developing and fine-tuning the production process was complex and time consuming. Beneficially creating various versions of form and scale can now be achieved fairly easy allowing customisation and unique low-batch productions for clients. Both Manta and Infinite Loop are based on the same core principles forming a perfect synergy between the stretch material, LED lighting and metal framework. However, while the Infinite Loop light is a highly volumetric and three-dimensional, the Manta light consists of various Barrisol foils with different intensities of stretch to provide a highly-layered acoustic dampening and uniform lighting. This slim framework forms a rhomboid, which allows for many different large modular arrangements. Various new forms and smaller-scale versions are currently in development. Furthermore, plans are underway for further developing the production process allowing custom, low-batch versions, creating a bridge between one of a kind installation work and conventional mass-production products. Parametric tools were created allowing to digitally simulate the stretch behaviour of the Barrisol material. While first concentrating on the aesthetical output, further investigations on the amount of stretching and limits of the material were also conducted. The biggest challenge involved the investigations to overcome misalignment between the digital simulations and the actual material behaviour. In order to achieve the same output, the production tolerances had to be extremely low. In addition, the Barrisol team’s new techniques and tools were utilised to ensure homogenous and wrinkle-free lights.
Total volume of the installation for illumination was 639 m3 (7.8 x 7.0 x 11.7 m).
Component parts included LED strip light, diffusive reflective Barrisol stretch foil, bent aluminium, custom lighting sequence, electrical hardware and metal framework.
Used light was LED strip lights positioned along the bent aluminium rails.
Installation included a total of six light sculptures which each incorporated LED strips and bent aluminium: 2 x Infinite Loop 1 (with 11.4-m aluminium extrusion); 1 x Infinte Loop 2 (with 9.3-m aluminium extrusion); and Manta Light (with 7.1-m aluminium extrusion).
Lighting control could be individually controlled for all internal LEDs, as well as the overall internal light of the pavilion’s interior. The set-up included 5-minutesequences of various lighting scenarios showcasing different ambient modes.
Metal framework of the custom-built pavilion was constructed of an internal metal structure, gladded with Barrisol stretch foil. This internal metal framework has been built to provide accurate fixing points for the light sculptures.
Construction time in total was 14 days; arrangement of the LED–aluminium tubes were carried out on-site.
Barrisol is the world’s leading manufacturer of stretched ceilings. Today, we are proud to present our collaboration with Ross Lovegrove, who is a world-acclaimed designer of intelligent organic forms. With more than 45 years’ experience in the industry, the Barrisol team shows exceptional workmanship in its products, which form these unique organic shapes. The pairing of Ross Lovegrove and Barrisol has enabled us to expand the universe of design, in order to provide brilliant solutions for lighting and mirrors.
— Jean-Marc Scherrer, president Barrisol-Normalu SAS
Barrisol has great potential to explore organic and linear spaces. Our studio, committed to innovation and modernity, has focused on amplifying its values of acoustic dampening, reflectivity, elasticity, diffusion and lightness. This installation opens up an aesthetic territory that lies between the deep ocean and deep space, to create a dialogue for the 21st century between aquatic biomorphism and Nasa-like intelligent systems.
—Ross Lovegrove, London, 2014
Barrisol is a family of various stretch-foils made in France by a company of the same name. They’re soft materials, good at reflecting light and absorbing sound, and architects normally use them as flat ceilings or acoustic panels. At least, that’s what practices like Foster + Partners and Snøhetta have tended to use them for. Studio Ross Lovegrove – of organic, parametric design fame – has used the materials more ambitiously. Presenting at the recent Biennale Interieuer trade fair in Kortrijk, Belgium, Lovegrove’s studio had stretched Barrisol over aluminium tube frames to create a series of large-scale LED lights that curve into Möbius-like loops, or stretch into wafting rhomboids. To house these lights, the studio also designed a 7m tall pavilion made from Barrisol. The interior is formed from plain white sheets that dimple and extrude in an alternating pattern to stretch the Barrisol, while the exterior is composed of golden honeycomb tiles, the centres of which are pushed out from within to hold the tiles in tension. “When you push it out it really articulates and distorts,” says Chris Hermann, head of parametric design at Lovegrove’s studio. “We wanted to show that using foil you can create appearances that would normally be associated with stainless steel sculptures.” Yet while the pavilion’s scale is impressive, the lighting is the greater technical achievement. “If you want to say the wall is medium difficulty to achieve technically, the lights range from a bit more complex to extremely difficult,” says Hermann. Lovegrove’s lights split into two categories. The “bit more complex” is the Manta, a glowing rhombus that can be arranged modularly in spaces such as airports, hotel lobbies or atriums to form a ceiling. The “extremely difficult” is the Infinite Loop series, lights styled as quasi-Möbius strips where the Barrisol has to twist itself 180° around its aluminium frame. To create the Infinite Loop series, the studio used parametric modelling programmes – digital systems that generate geometries based upon an initial input of data – to determine the form of the lights. “You simulate how the material would be when stretched, then digitally unroll it and the manufacturer can use that cutout pattern to digitally cut out the surface,” says Hermann. “It’s extremely important that the bent rail and the surface are produced in a very precise way to match each other, as imprecision immediately creates ripples in the material. But there’s a lot of magic on the Barrisol side; a lot of manual figuring out and engineering to make it happen after the digital modelling.” Lovegrove’s studio is noted for use of parametric programmes, tools that it uses to help generate the organic, science-fiction shapes for which it is known. Yet use of such programmes is not without its critics, with many designers pointing to their tendency to lead to highly aestheticised, yet conceptually empty forms, with the reliance on digital technologies also jarring against a resurgence of interest in craft techniques and ideas around “truth to materials”. Architect Frank Gehry is one of the foremost proponents of the technology and earlier this month was reduced to giving a journalist the finger when questioned in a press conference as to whether his buildings amounted to any more than “spectacle”. It was a situation that summed up many people’s feelings regarding the technology. Hermann however is keen to defend the practice, albeit with certain caveats. “I come from an architectural background and graduated six years ago and at that time parametric design had a fast emerge,” he says. “But it was a bit like a paper flame. There is a strong potential in it, but because you use tools there is a lot of potential for you to hide behind the tool. You get distinct aesthetics that clearly come from a single tool, but don’t harness or showcase a concept. They’re purely style. “For us, it’s main use has been to help close the gap between us and the manufacturer. We create models and those go to the manufacturer to look at. They then tell us us if certain parts can’t be moulded or the material is to thin at a certain point. As the design is parametrically set up, you can then very quickly create changed iterations. It’s a tool that lets you create form and complexity, pipelined towards reasonable production.” The Barrisol project is an attempt to put this ethos into action. The swirling forms of the lights were made possible through the capacity to map them digitally in order to establish the precise measurements necessary for their subsequent production, with the complexity of the Infinite Loop lights the result. Hermann however is adamant that all of this was geared towards achieving viable production. “The good thing is that although the form is very complex, once you’ve actually figured it out, the process of making multiple copies is not that difficult,” he says. “The process to get there is complicated, but once that’s done you can create it for a suitable price for the target market.”