Commissioned by the V&A and En+ Group, the world's largest producer of low-carbon aluminium and independent hydropower, to design a pavilion to profile the fundamental role of low-carbon raw materials in creating a more sustainable world.
The pavilion is positioned over the pool in the centre of The John Madejski Garden at the V&A, where the shimmering qualities of the aluminium surfaces interplay with the reflections of the pool. Visitors are invited to enter and interact with the pavilion, offering a moment of reflection between the forest of aluminium legs and upwards to the sky through the intricate cut-and-fold form of the structure.
Light, durable, and almost infinitely recyclable, aluminium is already ubiquitous in its use. Developments in decarbonising its production are critical to a low-carbon future across a vast array of industries. The pavilion is made from aluminium produced using En+ Group’s unique inert anode technology which generates a thousand times less emissions than the current average for the industry, and is powered by renewable electricity. Direct and indirect smelter emissions are at 0.01, compared to 12 t CO2/t Al for the industry average.
‘Between Forests and Skies’ uses a minimal volume of material to create a seemingly delicate yet robust self-supporting structure to demonstrate the unique qualities of aluminium. Minimal cuts and bends to the sheet material transform it from a 2D object into a complex 3D forest-like space, which mirrors and distorts the shifts and changes of the day.
It is constructed of 27 individual pieces of 3m x 1.5m x 20mm aluminium plates (dimensions dictated by the access and loading restrictions through the museum). The legs are waterjet- cutouts of each sheet, peeled down from the canopy to open up views to the sky. The 27 pieces are bolted together with an array of circular connection plates attached to the top surface. This system means that the pavilion can be easily dismantled, relocated and rebuilt.
The pavilion builds on Nebbia Works’ previous investigations into the qualities of aluminium as demonstrated in their Tighten Table Series, a range of household, display and exhibition tables each created from a single sheet of hand-polished, recycled aluminium, manually bent and tensioned with ratchet straps. It further explores the innate strength of aluminium coupled with algorithmically solved leg positions to create a self-supporting structure which touches the ground lightly.