You can't miss it while visiting the Belgian garden in Expo 2019 Beijing : a cloud hangs over the square in this green space. The cloud is based on the principle of tensegrity.
It brings forward the purest and also the most complex construction technique. Installation of this cloud had to be redone 9 times to achieve this perfect result !
Tensegrity appeared in the 60-70s. In architecture, it is the design of a structure that maintains itself and stabilises itself by playing on tension and compression forces.
The balance of mechanical stress is the basis for the structure's stability, not the resistance of each element.
By compressing the elements in their most natural axes, we can thus place different elements in equilibrium. For example, by connecting rods and anchors without directly connecting the rods themselves, we can create a rigid system.
You may have already seen creations based on open tensegrity. Architects and engineers from NG-lab directed by Nicolas Godelet have gone even further: they have created a closed system on a never-before-seen scale.
After 7 months of calculations, design, meticulous adjustments and a series of construction-demolition-reconstruction events, the cloud was finally finished, 6 meters above the ground to proudly crown the Belgian garden.
It's one thing to design something, but it's another to build it ! Thanks to a volunteer team of architects, engineers, landscapers and especially workers and site managers, the largest closed tensegrity structure in the world now exists in our garden. A wonderful experience !