Transparent Dome by Smiljan Radic : A Bubble for Fashion Show
- Project Name: Transparent Dome by Smiljan Radic
- Project Architect: Smiljan Radic
- Title of the Show: London Skies
- Event: Alexander Mcqueen Spring/Summer 2022 Womenswear
- Company: Alexander Mcqueen
- Structural Specialist: ES Global
- Creative Agency: Gainsbury & Whiting
Transparent Dome by Smiljan Radic is an inflated structure proposed for Alexander McQueen Show London. This transparent dome for the summer 2022 fashion show was designed for the company’s first-ever show in London after a gap of 20 years.
London residents casting their eyes to gaze at the Wapping skyline could see a giant bubble on the topmost level of a structure offering curiosity and creativity for the sky-gazers. The onion dome appearing to be floating resembles a biohazardous sphere or greenhouse.
The structure is located in the Wapping neighborhood, on the top of a multi-story car parking structure adjacent to the iconic Tobacco Dock, a former tobacco storehouse now utilized for major commercial and corporate occasions.
The current edition of McQueen is intended to celebrate the current living and working environment and everyday experiences. Transparent Dome for Alexander McQueen Show showcased womenswear collection in east London inside one translucent, cloud-shaped building envisioned by a Chilean architect.
On October 13th, the Spring/Summer 2022 fashion show was held on this transparent dome by Smiljan Radic housed on the rooftop of a car park in Tobacco Dock. The occasion marked a homecoming for the British fashion label, which has presented its latest designs in Paris for the previous 20 years.
The exhibition, named London Skies, was inspired by the cloudy skies that Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen’s creative director, and the McQueen crew observe from their office. The latest womenswear collection is also inspired by London’s ever-changing and frequently stormy sky, blending nicely with the settings.
“We moved from water – and the mud on the banks of the Thames- to the sky and the ever-changing, all-encompassing magnificence that represents. The artwork for the prints in this collection was shot from the rooftops of the studio where we are lucky enough to have the most incredible views of the city: from Saint Paul’s Cathedral to the London Eye”, stated Sarah Burton, the creative head of the brand Alexander McQueen.
The dome was surrounded by dispersing clouds, creating the impression of being enveloped in a ball of air, with breathtaking city vistas broadening out into wide skies.
The stylistic flair of a presentation that featured an off-shoulder skeletal corset costume with cloud arms in sunny yellow silk fabric and attire with a low cut neckline and accumulated channel and ribbon detailing in crafted stormy sky cloud print poly taffeta material was intensified by London’s temperamental climate, which alternated between vibrant, sunny, and an intimidating shade of gray.
The transparent dome for Alexander McQueen Show is a product of the architect’s close collaboration with structural expert ES Global and creative firm Gainsbury & Whiting to manage the exhibition space’s development and fabrication.
ES Global created a translucent spherical superstructure that was inflated and restrained by steel cables to make it look as if it were sprouting from its cable net.
The area was created on top of a huge platform supported by a unique scaffolding system, which was purposefully left exposed at its edges to disclose the skeleton of its structure owing to the nature of the car park’s sloping surfaces.
A translucent paneled membrane was used to create the physical environment, which was linked to a curved circular tube at its base. A mesh of steel tensile wires strung between the inflating membrane’s channels, supporting and constraining the membrane.
The exhibition space bubble’s inner entry was deliberately located at the back of the rooftop site, allowing attendees to wander around the area while taking in incredible views of London’s cityscape.
Two pairs of curved rows of foldable wooden chairs functioned as seats for the fashion show’s attendees within the inflated, cloud-like bubble. A series of steps ascended from below the plywood stage in the center of the room, amid a loose circle of seats, where models approached the space after the performance had begun.
Several ducts in the floor pushed air into the bubble to keep it inflated, while air-locked, spinning doors kept departing air at bay.
The area and its operations were powered by a generator placed on a lower level of the parking lot. Hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO) was used to operate this, which is a renewable diesel substitute generated from vegetable oils, grease, green waste, and agricultural leftovers.
The enormous dome aspires to make the fashion show’s primary characters the aura of the past and the ecology of the city. In this way, tracks like Massive Attack’s “Safe From Harm” and Daniel Avery’s “Yesterday Faded” are wonderfully complemented by it.
The concept presented in the McQueen show is that of a lady being a storm chaser. It speaks of storm chasing’s attributes connecting the passionately unique group of people that wear these garments. They live in the same universe, and the clothing has been designed with them in mind.
Here, the concept of storm chasing is not only about the grandeur of the vistas, but also a feeling of suspense and thrill – about accepting the reality that we never know what will happen next. Giving up control and being in close contact with the unexpected is to become one with the environment, to see and sense it at its most extreme – to be at one with a reality that is greater and more magnificent than we are.
This ideology and principles are very well witnessed in the design of the transparent dome. The structure of the dome sparks a sense of thrill and if seen from the lower level, it injects curiosity and caters to the concept of the unexpected.
The transparency connects users to the outer world and offers panoramic views of the lovely skies and stunning cityscape of London. The bubble-like exhibition space, which both shuts and exposes its visitors to the outside world, urges them to reach out and grab the crisp metropolitan skyline, bringing together antagonistic aspects such as restriction and liberty, the metropolis, and the natural environment, inside and outside existence.
Inflatable structures first appeared in the 1960s as a way to express discontent with conventional cultural standards about lifestyle, work, and community. They were viewed as potentially revolutionary buildings that allowed for space exploration in an attempt to affect social, cognitive, and physical reasoning through architecture.
What followed in “inflatotecture” was typified by the revolutionary era, which perceived it as a way to provide a diversity of opinion and innovation while utilizing lighter, stronger building techniques and the latest technology.
The exhibition’s inflatable structures examine current architectural and design initiatives, such as livable places and artistic installations, as well as the many materials and unusual shapes used in their creation.
Inflatable structures are often revolutionary, artistic, and infused with social, cultural, or ecological meaning. They are, by definition, a representation of progress; a rethinking of old forms.
The transparent dome by Smiljan Radic is a representation of the current architectural design trends, facilitating cutting-edge creative activity, and serving as a symbol of technical updates. The exhibition space was created to be readily dismantled, moved, and repurposed for a variety of purposes, including teaching and cultural events.
This design is a notable example of the sensitive architecture that establishes a relationship between the built environment and nature. The designer’s thoughtfulness enabled the team to achieve the product that complements the designs showcased in the exhibition.
The fashion concept of skies is very well demonstrated with the architectural language of inflated architecture offering clear views of nature. This design depicts the deep relationship between the two designing industries. It conveys how architecture can be adopted to enhance fashion or vice-versa.
The unique architectural approach offers a comfortable exhibition space delivering a great user experience. The form offers an experience of being in a cloud-shaped bubble and connects the users to the natural and architectural world through its transparency.