Green Void

photo©Chris Bosse

A spectacular architectural installation of green Lycra inspired by the geometries of plants, spider webs and soap bubbles took over five levels of the central atrium of Customs House in Sydney in 2009.

Green Void was a 20 meter high, suspended site-specific installation, a digital design derived from nature and realized in lightweight fabric, using the latest digital fabrication and engineering techniques, to create more with less.

Green Void took the idea of creating more with less, with 3000 cubic meters of space [the equivalent of 8 million cola cans] connected by 300 square meters and weighing only 40 kg.

The installation was a ‘minimal surface’ that consists of a tensioned Lycra material, digitally patterned and custom-tailored for the space.

The potential for naturally evolving systems such as snowflakes, spider webs and soap bubbles for new building typologies and structures has continued to fascinate LAVA – the geometries in nature create both efficiency and beauty.

photo©Michael Anderson


The shape of the installation was not explicitly designed. It is rather the result of the most efficient connection of different boundaries in three-dimensional space, found in nature in things like organic cells, crystals and the natural formation of soap bubbles. LAVA determined the connection points within the space and the rest is a mathematical formula with a minimal surface. 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.

The installation was inspired by the relationship between man, nature and technology. Sensual, green and digital, it provided an intense visual contrast to the heritage splendor of Customs House.

Green Void is transportable in a sports-bag to any place in the world; it can be assembled in minimal time, and is fully reusable. Already the principles have been used in other LAVA projects such as the RAIA Bar 2009.

The lightweight fabric design followed the natural lines, contours and surface tension of the fabric. The curves could be seen as the result of invisible bubbles that were translated into an organic 3-dimensional space.

The installation was immersed in a soundscape by sound artist David Chesworth, with graphic design by TOKO, and came to life with the latest 3D projection and lighting by visual artist Peter Murphy.


photo©Peter Bennets

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