Guest Contribution by Pascal Panagiotidis

When Yorkshire Forward opened an international competition for a mobile pavilion, no one would imagine that the result could be a diamond. The Yorkshire Diamond is a Various Architects’ project and one of finalists among this competition’s participants. The pavilion has the form of the atomic structure of diamonds and is designed in order to represent Yorkshire Forward at local events or abroad.
Inflatable tubes have been used in order to give the Yorkshire Diamond the desired form but also the necessary flexibility which allows it to be used either for small or large conferences. Natural light and ventilation has been ensured so that the pavilion turns into the ideal place to accommodate events or happenings. One of its special features is that it can be turned inside out making it a mobile venue for concerts and when the night falls the outer skin radiates light in any color just like a diamond under the sun.

STATUS: Competition Finalist
CLIENT: Yorkshire Forward
SITE: Yorkshire, UK
SIZE: 400m2
TEAM: Aleksandra Danielak, Camilla Eduardsen, Jim Dodson, Ibrahim Elhayawan
PARTNERS: Engineers - Rambol Whitbybird Inflatables - Tectoniks

text by the architects

The Yorkshire Diamond Pavilion is a unique and iconic venue that is  designed to represent Yorkshire Forward at events around Yorkshire  and Humber or further abroad.

The project is an attraction in itself with a striking exterior in the form  of inflatable tubes arranged in the atomic structure of diamonds.  The 20 x 26 x 10 meter diamond grid volume is mined out to form a  cavernous interior space reminiscent of the coal mines of Yorkshire.  Light and air shafts pierce the structure providing natural light and  ventilation. At night the translucent shafts and outer skin radiate light  in all colors and directions like a diamond twinkling in the sunlight.

A focus on flexibility gives the pavilion multiple configurations which  allow it to be used for everything from small gatherings to large  conferences or public presentations. The voluminous internal space  will surprise and delight when installed in close quartered public  squares. The pavilion can also be turned ‘inside out’ to open up a  large covered area to open outdoor spaces to create the ultimate  mobile venue for concerts or big-screen events.

Innovative sustainable features that can generate energy during  transport and while installed, together with lightweight recyclable  materials will demonstrate Yorkshire Forward’s commitment to the  environment wherever the pavilion is situated. Creative new uses of  existing proven technologies make this pavilion design possible to  produce and operate for a reasonable price.

Sustainable Inflatable Structure

With it’s inflatable structural skin, the Yorkshire Diamond is as lightweight as possible to reduce travel weight and packing volume, which in turn reduces the carbon footprint for transport of the pavilion. The project also features innovative uses of natural light, natural ventilation, and recyclable materials.

The Pavilion uses tried and tested inflatable technology consisting of pressurised tubes in a new and stunning way. The diamond-lattice structure creates a stable 3D superstructure enclosing the project. This adds stability to a series of domed shapes which are a triangulated network of tubes with dual-layer inflated cushions on each side to provide in-plane stiffness. The outer cushion of the volume is translucent, giving the volume visual depth, the inner layer is a white blackout fabric which allows the inner space to be darkened during the day. A 2m x 2m structural flooring grid with adjustable legs provides a stable base for the project. This is weighted down with the two shipping containers the project is transported in, and additional water filled weights to limit the need to transport heavy ballast or foundations. Structural sketches shown at right.

The tubes are precision cut by a computer controlled CNC machine to give wrinklefree forms when inflated, even on the complicated geometry shown here. A pressurisation system of controlled fans placed in sound dampened compartment of one of the shipping containers provides stable air pressure to the structure. The entire structure can be inflated in 1 hour. Once inflated, the air tight tubes require only an occasional corrective inflation which uses little electricity and emits little sound. The final product has a solid look and feel. Images from a full scale mock-up of a similar inflated structure with inflated cushion are shown below.

The structural inflatable skin is specified as a fire retardant, PVC coated, UV stabilised, high tenacity, woven polyester base cloth (Ferrari Precontraint 402 or similar). The inflatable skin is 100% recyclable using the Texyloop process. Due to the constant monitoring of pressure by the fans, the structure will remain standing even if punctured or vandalized. Minor repairs to the skin can be made on-site, and larger segments can be repaired or replaced seamlessly in the factory.

Secondary materials for use in the floor system, furnishings, and exhibition panels should be chosen from the Green Guide for material specification to assess the environmental impact of the material. Where possible only materials with an ‘A’ rating should be chosen.

Portable Power Generation

Our energy goal for the project is to generate enough power locally to be able to inflate the structure upon arrival to a new site, maintain air pressure, and power the general working lighting and outside effect lighting at night. This would also make it possible to install and use the basic structure on sites off the grid. The inclusion of two different forms of renewable energy gives the system diversity and redundancy. It also and turns the installation into a mobile demonstration of renewable energy technology. Information tracking how much energy is being generated can be a part of the internal display.

Solar panels would be mounted to the top of the two modified 20’ shipping containers used to transport the structure. A rack of batteries mounted in the containers stores the energy generated for use. This allows the project to charge during transit between installations such that it will be ready for deployment. A small wind turbine (Quiet Revolution or similar) is to be mounted to one of the containers after the structure is fully inflated. This will add additional energy to the batteries and can provide energy
throughout the night or on cloudy days. Compressed air is an alternative way to store the energy generated, and should also be investigated in the next phase.

With current technology is not feasible to generate all the power necessary for all of the possible functions of the pavilion. Functions with high energy demands, such as internet cafe, film screenings, or concerts would need an alternative power source. The additional power for these should be sourced from environmentally friendly sources where possible.

Yorkshire Diamond Pavilion

1 of