Traditional opera houses have long been challenged for their inaccessibility to certain publics, notably the young, the poor, and the culturally diverse. The Opera House of the Future should be a venue that is welcoming, exciting and inspiring to theses audiences. The Opera House needs to be a temporary construction that can travel to many sites.
There is a direct relationship between the phenomenon of sound and the molecules that make up the air around us. We hear music when a vibrating source sets these molecules in motion–their movements determining frequency and amplitude. This led me to research inflatable structures.
Because this opera house is intended to travel from city to city, it’s important to minimize the costs that will occur every time it is deployed. Time is a proxy for money. During construction, money is spent on labor. When the building is in operation, it can earn revenue. An inflatable structure can be erected in less than one day by a skeleton crew and without the use of cranes.
There will also be a cost to the environment. In the US, the average freight truck emits 160 grams of CO2 per mile for every ton of cargo it carries. An inflatable dome weighs 7x less than an aluminum and PVC geodesic dome of the same size. This means it will also pollute 7x less when it travels.
While there is a strong business case for inflatable construction, as a designer, I’m more excited about the aesthetic and experiential opportunities it provides. What happens when the typical logic of construction no longer applies? When the walls are plump and soft? How do you tap into a lineage of inflatables as facsimiles?
For me, this was an opportunity to explore the language of danger. It would be irresponsible to design dangerous forms with concrete or metal. With inflatables, I can make an architecture of monsters and spikes.
Monsters are found across all cultures. We live with them, in one form or another, throughout our lives. But confronting them is a cathartic act. I hope that this project, titled Culture, can turn a language of danger into joy and excitement.