Fast Company

A Brief History of Inflatable Architecture

inflatable dome in New York

New York just wrapped a series of parties, held around the city inside the inflatable dome you see above. But inflatable architecture has been around for at least 40 years. Archidose just did a brilliant round-up of the highpoints. Here's a brief summary.

The idea began, naturally, in the 1960s. The one up top is a design by the visionary, almost forgotten American firm Jersey Devil; at the bottom is a 1970 project by Ant Farm--whom you probably know from their outdoor installation Cadillac Ranch, which featured ten cars buried halfway into the ground:

Jersey Devil and Ant Farm

More recently, the artist Michael Rakowitz created ParaSITE, in 1988. Intended as a wry joke about the waste products which we never think about, it used the HVAC exhaust from buildings to inflate the structure:

Michael Rakowitz paraSITE

Alexis Rochas, an architecture professor at SCI-Arc, created this installation in 2006. Computers were used to cut more precise shapes; Rochas had the idea that in the future, we'd pack our homes into a suitcase:

Alexis Rochas installation

In 2006, Rem Koolhaas and engineer Cecil Balmond created what I personally think is the best pavilion ever seen on the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in London (the museum invites an architect to erect a new temporary structure every summer):

Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond pavilion

Norwegian firm mmw architects created this installation in 2005, to connect four separate buildings:

mmw architects

Also in 2005, Kengo Kuma created this Tea House on the grounds of museum in Frankfurt: 

Kengo Kuma Tea House

For more info, check out Archidose's hard working summary.

Related: Raumlabor's Portable, Inflatable Dance Party Comes to New York

[Topmost image by laverrue]

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2 Comments

  • Rudolph Kings

    It's just happened. This structures are semi-permanent and easily disassembled. In today's dynamic world, it's very convenient and low construction-demolition cost. Bad proportion? This structure aren't conventional so your standard for proportion might be biased.