Tensioned Relaxations

Program: 10-12 Rapidly deployable temporary free-standing pavilions 

Location: New York, USA 

Client: Storefront for Art and Architecture

Tensioned Relaxations is a series of temporary and rapidly deployable outdoor structures that aspires to reinvent the typical street fair tent through a combination of dynamic form, variable configurations, and optical effects. Designed as a proposal for the Ideas City  2013 street festival, each structure is highlighted by a uniquely sensual and continuous form composed of a tensioned HDPE Mesh skin with bespoke artwork by the talented roster of urban artists at SA Studios / SA-UP Collective and a perimeter ring made of steel rods.   The combined effect of each structures organic form, perforated mesh, and silk-screened skin provides a striking graphic identity to New York’s StreetFest which encourages visual and spatial interaction while simultaneously enabling numerous configurations to accommodate a multiplicity of activities including: vendors, workshop areas, outdoor classrooms, demonstrations, installations, music, and other performances and exhibitions. 

Conceived as an extension of the legacy of Frei Otto’s seminal lightweight tensioned membrane structures, it is the structures unique form that makes the structure both efficient and effective. The form was developed through a parallel process of both analogue and digital form-finding to explore the material behaviours of composite tensioned membrane skins (relaxed meshes) and bending active frames. In short, the steel tube ring is deformed into shape by the tailoring of skin which binds it. In response, the frame pushes out while the skin pulls in, creating a form-force equilibrium that is lightweight, cost-efficient, and easy to assemble.  The structure was developed in collaboration with Buro Happold Los Angeles.