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Strips of curving perforated aluminium are joined together to create this huge branching installation by architect Marc Fornes and his studio The Very Many. The installation, named Under Magnitude, is suspended from the atrium of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The network of tubular branches are made up from stripes of perforated hand-curved aluminium, which are riveted together. Over 4,600 strips of aluminium, which Fornes refers to as “structural stripes”, form the two-storey structure.

Each individual piece has a thickness of just one millimetre, but is bent in such a way that is strong enough to walk on. “Each stripe assumes high degrees of curvature individually and high degrees of double curvature in accumulation – amounting to extreme structural rigidity throughout the project,” said the studio. The Under Magnitude installation is the latest in a string of sinuous structures created by art and architecture studio The Very Many and Marc Fornes, which has created similar forms for a Texas park and at the Storefront for Art and Architecture gallery in New York.

Each project by the New York- and Strasbourg-based practice builds on the research of German architect and engineer Frei Otto, and his experiments with soap bubbles. “Otto determined that a bubble, when blown up to the size of a room, is more structurally performant than a box,” explained the studio. “The strength of Under Magnitude is achieved by ‘Intensive Curvature’, which is the maximisation of double curvature across the project while constraining maximum radaii,” it added.

“The result is a structure that has much tighter curvature with constant change of direction, and results in more structural performance.” The hollow structure is suspended from columns in the atrium of the convention centre, where it is illuminated or cast in shadow by the windows that surround it. “To each passerby beneath the suspended structure, a different kind of personal connection is forged, as the work provokes comparisons to the recognisable world, influenced by individual experiences and associations,” said the studio, which leaves the form open to interpretation,” said the studio.

“Borrowing and mismatching elements from the world, pushing them out of scale and hybridising them to the realm of the bizarre, the structure achieves a familiar yet mysterious quality, at once friendly and alien,” it added. Under Magnitude is based on an earlier installation by Marc Fornes and The Very Many at the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France, which also resembles a giant piece of coral. The studio has also previously designed a house in Strasbourg, France, featuring an indoor slide for its younger residents.

Design: Marc Fornes

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