Tell us about the early design brief
We worked with up-and-coming architects Pernilla and Asif to design Coca-Cola’s pavilion in the Olympic Park. Designed in a style intended to communicate the spirit and energy of youth, the futuristic pavilion demonstrated how innovative structural engineering can have a real influence on the form of a building.
What inspired your design concept?
The contest-winning design, known as the Coca-Cola Beatbox, was a truly interactive structure, based on a concept celebrating beat, rhythm and movement.
The pavilion’s exterior was formed from an array of tightly packed translucent pillows, each measuring five metres in length and finished in the famous brand colours. Formed from two layers of ETFE plastic attached to a rectangular steel frame and inflated, visitors could strike the structure and the pillows would emit sound and light. The musical pillows featured music recorded by DJ Mark Ronson from young athletes around the world and effectively converted the building into a gigantic musical instrument.
What challenges did you face along the way?
The concept was simple: to create a structurally self-supporting exterior rather than fixing cladding to a support structure. As such – apart from the pillows – there was virtually no other structure visible and this created an extremely lightweight and elegant design.
Our solution was known as a reciprocal structure: the pillows weaved together three-dimensionally to create a self-supporting structure that was eight metres high and 24 metres in diameter. We felt this was an efficient way to create a large structural form using relatively small components and minimal connections.
What about specific design challenges?
Our smart geometry team p.art® analysed and optimised the complex geometry of the façade. The process began with a more ordered pattern, which was then given the appearance of randomness by rotating pillows, removing some and shifting others inwards or outwards.
The structure itself was easy to assemble and was built as a series of pre-fabricated self-supporting sections, which were brought to site and pieced together like a giant jigsaw.
How did it feel to be involved in such an important British project?
It was very exciting to be involved in such a high profile project.