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Into the Green Void

International architectural think tank, LAVA, go green at Customs House.

Into the Green Void


December 15th, 2008

Founded in 2007 by Chris Bosse and Tobias Wallisser the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) is a unique ‘think tank’ that aims to “bridge the gap between the dream and the real world”.

The LAVA team have made waves this year launching the Michael Schumacher World Champion Tower residential development in Abu Dhabi and the Future Hotel Showcase suite in Germany, as well as taking out the Best International Interior and the Sustainability Grant at the 2008 Interior Design Awards.

The latest project from Bosse, Wallisser and Alexander Rieck (LAVA Europe) is a mammoth installation in Sydney’s Customs House. ‘Green Void’ is a 20 metre-high fabric sculpture in the centre of the heritage building.

Inspired by the relationship between man, nature and technology, the digital design takes up 3000 cubic metres with a surface area of just 300 square metres and made from only 40 kg of tensioned Lycra material. Carefully placed coloured lighting gives further dimension to the huge green sculpture.

“We really wanted to see how far we could take the idea of creating more with less,” says Wallisser.

“The shape of the pavilion is not explicitly designed; it is rather the result of the most efficient subdivision of three-dimensional space, which can be found in nature in things like organic cells, crystals and the natural formation of soap bubbles,” says Bosse.

“…the concept was achieved with a flexible material that follows the forces of gravity, tension and growth, similar to a spider web or a coral reef.”

Engineered, fabricated, constructed and installed by MakMax an architectural tension membranes company.

“This is the most ambitious Lycra structure we have ever attempted,” says Daniel Cook of MakMax. “We had to create a surface floating in space, supported by a heritage-listed façade which we were not allowed to permanently anchor to, as well as support a fixed fabric edge that was not excessively heavy.

“The end result is a credit to the engineering design, patterning and fabrication process.”

You’ll find the installation ‘hovering’ above the model of the city in the building’s foyer – ‘immersed’ in a soundscape by David Chesworth – until June 2009.

Details of the design including engineering, fabrication and installation of the sculpture are also on show, along with other recent LAVA projects.


Can’t get there yourself? Check it out in this virtual tour by Peter Murphy




Customs House

31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay, NSW 2000
61 2 9242 8551
61 2 9242 8599



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LAVA team chris bosse




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