Elgin, IL – October 18, 2013: Fabric Images, Inc.®, in collaboration with Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA) and the auto-maker Volvo, completed fabrication on the first of its kind sustainable energy tensioned fabric architectural display called the PURE Tension Pavilion. Fabricated at Fabric Images facility in Elgin, Illinois, USA, the solar pavilion was installed and debuted in Milan, Italy in mid-October for the Volvo Italia release of the Volvo V60 Plug-in Diesel Vehicle.
The PURE Tension Volvo V60 Pavilion was a design and fabrication partnership effort between Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), Buro Happold (BH), and Fabric Images, Inc., with material sponsorship from FTL Global, Ascent Solar Technologies, Seam Design and IGuzzini. The concept began as the winning design by Synthesis Design + Architecture for the 2013 Switch to Pure Volvo Pavilion Design Competition, commissioned by Volvo Car Italia and organized by “The Plan” magazine, to showcase the new Volvo V60 Hybrid Diesel vehicle. The purpose- to create a lightweight, rapidly deployable, tensioned membrane structure that would act as a portable solar charging station for the vehicle. Embedded with Photovoltaic panels, light collected from the sun or indoor artificial lighting would act to power the pavilion and charge the V60 model. As an added benefit, the pavilion would have the ability to break down into a small package for easy transport within the vehicle itself.
Fabric Images was brought on board to fabricate the pavilion based on their vast knowledge in tensile architecture, architectural design solutions, European reach, and belief that nothing is impossible. Their involvement included the fabrication and design collaboration of the aluminum perimeter framework and mesh scrim textile covering and leaflets, along with the application and wiring of the 178 Photovoltaic panels. The steps taken by Fabric Images included extensive studies on form-finding, mesh relaxation and patterning, material sourcing, connection detail planning, and integration of the Photovoltaic panels into the main covering. It was through project-specific research and development that the structure and solar-powered aspects of the design were established. Small details were accounted for, such as the intricate tiling and finishing of the 518 fabric panels, the leaf design that held the solar panels and the wire management joining the solar panels, which created a spine down the back of the structure to the main battery source.
At first just a conceptual idea, but now a fabricated reality, the PURE Tension Volvo V60 Pavilion has proven to be a reliable solution in addressing the issue of sustainability and renewable energy-based architecture on a micro scale. The power strategy incorporated into the architecture enabled the Photovoltaic panels to collect enough energy to power and charge the Volvo V60. What started as experimental in nature was brought to life through dedication to the design and a true understanding of the vision and purpose of the project. As recently stated by Marco Alvarez, President & CEO of Fabric Images, “Our role in the fabrication and development of the PURE Tension Pavilion allowed us to be involved in something that changes the face of sustainability within the automotive industry. Not only is the pavilion functional, but it is also an amazing piece of architecture. It was an honor to have the opportunity to work with Synthesis Design + Architecture and Volvo Italia to bring life this truly beautiful and sophisticated design.”