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Minima | Maxima

Minima | Maxima stands at a crossroad of extremes: an ultra-thin shell of just 6mm rises to a height of 43 feet by way of its sprawling, double-curved surfaces. In this whimsical yet durable universe created by MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY, curves win out over angles. Branches, splits and recombinations make columns and beams irrelevant. A “networked'” surface rolls in, on and around itself, transforming into a space that upends preconceived notions of enclosure, threshold and limit, while also providing its own support.  Towards the base of the Minima | Maxima, its rolling surfaces begin to softly corrugate, its zig-zag angles gently tuck into a full pleat as they meet the ground platform. The visual transition -- from pleated base to smooth and doubly-curved, continuous surface -- is subtle, yet its structural effect is significant, allowing it to rise to impressive heights. It bends in all directions, but still manages to stand upright on its own.

This project is the tallest-thinnest freestanding work by THEVERYMANY, and extends the studio’s research and development efforts to achieve structural integrity through ultra-thin, self-supporting assemblies that find strength in the double curvature of their form. The studio’s innovative “structural stripes” accumulate in different directions to compose and strengthen these complex surfaces.

Three layers of flat, aluminum stripes -- white and white sandwiching pink -- are cross-laminated, supporting one another as they assume curvature and gain height. One layer never exists independently, but contributes to and benefits from the unified whole. The innovation lies in this multi-plication, where aluminum, an isotropic or non-directional structural material takes on anisotropic (directional) structural properties in its patterned, composite form. The system warrants comparison to fiber technology -- such as carbon or glass fiber -- yet is unique in that unlike fibers, each individual component does not need to be in tension. The assembly requires no mold or temporary scaffolding, and because it is mechanically bonded, the system allows for recomposition and correction during construction.

Minima | Maxima was commissioned for World Expo 2017, an event with a history of architectural and engineering innovations. The structure was situated prominently on the grounds in Astana, Kazakhstan, where it will continue to live as a permanent structure. The commissioning agency and partnering art organizations were intent on enhancing the cultural character of Astana, a new global city between Europe and Asia. More than adding a sculptural object to the Expo City campus, we created an environment that conditions memorable experience. The pavilion incites curiosity from afar and provides a moment of contemplation or play within. Long after the event of the expo, it remains a destination of interest for visitors to the developing city, and continues to appear in thousands of selfies and photos posted to social media.

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Status: Built
Location: Astana, KZ
Firm Role: Design/Build
Additional Credits: Photos by NAARO