The structure is made of two layers of aluminium that together measure just 16mm in thickness. The metallic surface reflects the sky on one side and the water underneath. Its sleek form provides a stark contrast to the historic backdrop of the V&A’s architecture.
Melodie Leung, project leader for Crest, explained the challenges and process of realising the installation.
“We were trying to find a way to create these forms without going to the expense of making a mould and having to do all these extra steps in the fabrication process,” she said. “We wanted to stick to the material’s properties and allow it to inform the shape.
“We worked with engineers at Buro Happold, looking at self-supporting structures that get their strength from their curvature or pleating on the surface. This allows it to have a large span and minimal thickness. We assembled it as a large flat plate and it was lifted and pulled together with an inflatable jack. We had to adjust all the distances until it fell into the precise shape we intended.”
The project was commissioned by Meli Hotels International, for whom the practice is in the second phase of designing the Opus hotel in Dubai. The design and construction process developed for
Crest is a continuation of the one the firm used for Arum, a pleated metal installation created for the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.
Crest will be transferred to the Opus hotel later in the year and forms the basis of the practice’s ongoing research into precision-engineered, pre-stressed aluminium structures.