Crest is an experimental sculpture that tests new design and construction technologies applied to a material of minimal thickness; investigating the relationship between formal arrangement and structural performance. Designed as a temporary installation, Crest will remain at the V&A until 24 October.
Crest tests the limits and possibilities of a new construction technique. The final structure is a 16mm thick shell, formed from 90 panels of 8mm structural aluminium arranged in two overlapping layers and joined by approximately 800 fabricated stainless steel bolts. The centre is raised with airjacks and its edges pulled together with Tirfor wire rope winches to the final form of approximately 1.9m height and 11m span. Two permanent cables in tension below the waterline prevent the plate from springing flat and allow the piece to find its natural form. Curved baseplates control the shell launch angle and provide anchorage for both temporary winch lines and permanent cables.
Crest achieves the maximum free-standing span using the design and construction technologies applied to a material of minimal thickness and has generated new insights into the complex relationship between the formal arrangement of panels and structural performance of the assembled piece. The highly investigative nature of this collaboration has given a greater understanding of thin shell structures that will continue to further the research and development of future applications.
Zaha Hadid said of the installation, ‘Crest explores the relationship between surface and structure, transforming the planar water surface of the V&A’s courtyard pool into a curvilinear form, creating a compelling interplay with light and reflection.’
Melodie Leung, Associate, Zaha Hadid Architects says, ‘It’s a process that we’ve never done before, an experiment about achieving a precise form as thin as possible. This is the thinnest shell structure we have built to date’
Max Fraser, London Design Festival Deputy Director said, ‘Every year during the London Design Festival we work with the V&A on a series of ambitious installations. Zaha’s solution was to do something very sculptural incredibly thin and light in its construction that spans the pool and create the illusion of ‘how was that engineered?’’