Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Victoria and Albert Museum pays tribute to Engineering as Design

We think of the Victoria & Albert Museum as being an art museum very much associated with design and decoration. Maybe not so much with engineering.  Yet that's the subject of its new season of exhibitions and exhibits.
The V&A Engineering Season highlights the importance of engineering in our daily lives and considers engineers as the ‘unsung heroes’ of design, who play a vital and creative role in the creation of our built environment.

Elytra Filament Pavilion


The V&A Museum now includes a new exhibit - The Elytra Filament Pavilion in the John Madejski Garden at the centre of the Museum.

It's based on the lightweight fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra and the entire structure has been fabricated by robots.

The pavilion is the outcome of a project which integrates architecture, engineering and biomimicry principles. It examined how biological fibre systems can be transferred to architecture the pavilion is the result of four years of research.

View of the Pavilion from above
What's especially interesting is that it's intended that the pavilion will grow and change its configuration over the course of the V&A Engineering Season. Changes made will be in response to anonymous data on how visitors use and move under the canopy. This, as well as structural data, will be captured by real-time sensors installed in its canopy fibres.

In effect it's a structure which will mimic human behaviour.

The Pavilion in profile
The robot creating the cell structure prior to installation
The canopy of the Pavilion is made up of 40 hexagonal component cells. On average they weigh 45kg each and take an average of three hours to make. These cells and the pavilion’s seven supporting columns were created by a computer-programmed Kuka robot in a four-month construction process at the ICD’s Fabrication Hall in Stuttgart (see above)

The newly-commissioned site-specific garden installation 'Elytra Filament Pavilion' is by experimental engineer and architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer.

Future exhibitions and events


You can find out more about the Engineering Season - which runs from 18 May - 6 November 2016 on the V&A website.

The season features an ambitious series of displays, large-scale installations, events and digital initiatives dedicated to global engineering design,

Over Arup and Total Design


Explore over 100 years of engineering and architectural design and discover the untold design stories behind some of the world’s most iconic buildings. 
Sydney Opera House under construction (6 April 1966)
© Robert Baudin for Hornibrook Ltd. Courtesy Australian Air Photos
Once upon a time I wanted to be an architect. However I could never get my head around physics and decided that being an architect wasn't such a such a wonderful idea if I couldn't understand the technicalities relevant to structures and building mechanics.

Which is why I have the utmost respect for all architects and structural engineers who can make magic out of space.

Over the years whenever I saw a building project which seemed to be particularly novel or just BIG, Ove Arup would invariably be the name decorating the 'credit' signboards outside.

Despite his name, Arup he was born  and brought up in England - to a Danish father and a Norwegian mother. He became known as a British engineer who ended up with the title Sir Ove Nyquist Arup, CBE, MICE, MIStructE (1895 - 1988)

Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design (18 June – 6 November) is an exhibition which will explore the work and legacy of the most significant engineer of the 20th century.

Ove Arup redefined the way architects, designers and engineers work together.

The exhibition profiles Ove’s career over five decades across the 20th century – a time of great social, political and technological change and the cataclysmic Second World War. Guided by Ove’s own writings on his philosophy of Total Design, it explores the principles he set out for his firm and the company’s evolution into a breeding ground of talent and experimentation.
Structures and buildings reflected in the exhibition include
  • Mulberry temporary harbours deployed during the D-Day landings in France in 1944
  • Sydney Opera House
  • the Centre Pompidou in Paris
  • Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank HQ
  • and his legacy eg the Crossrail Project.
Ship docked at Mulberry harbour (1944)
© Imperial War Museum
It opens on 18 June and tickets are now on sale.

Other events and exhibitions include:

  • Mind over Matter (from 15 June 2016) - Presented by the V&A+RIBA Architecture Partnership, Mind over Matter showcases a series of global cutting-edge engineering projects by British firms, reflecting London's status as an engineering capital and Britain as a world leader in creativity and design. These projects reflect London’s status as an engineering capital and Britain as a world leader in creativity and design. 
  • an Exhibition Road Engineering Residency supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund; 
  • a themed Friday Late; 
  • a series of lunchtime and evening lectures; 
  • talks and gallery tours, 
  • a symposium about biomimicry, design and engineering with a keynote lecture by Achim Menges.
PS The Victoria and Albert Museum is currently shortlisted for Museum of the Year.

1 comment:

Molly Vollmer said...

There's a lot of art elements in engineering. My grandson is studying mechanical engineering and the Math!! Gives me a headache.. Does anyone else get a creepy feeling from the phrase 'made by robots'? A glimpse of the future or is it already here? I'm beginning to feel like a Luddite.

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