The Black Cloud by Heather and Ivan Morison



A temporary pavilion of scorched timber by artists Heather and Ivan Morison opened in Bristol, England last month. 


Called The Black Cloud, the project is named after a novel by Sir Fred Hoyle about a giant gas cloud in space that threatens to block out sunlight and end life on earth.


The structure, which is composed of 152 uniquely-shaped timber triangles, was designed with architect graduate Sash Reading and commisioned by Situations at the University of West England.


It will host programmed events by local residents and visitors.


The structure will remain in place until 6 December.


More pavilions in our top ten pavilions.

Here's some more information from the artists.


The Black Cloud
Heather and Ivan Morison: The Black Cloud
Victoria Park, Bristol
25 July to 6 December 2009


From dawn till dusk on Saturday 25th July, artists Heather and Ivan Morison led a crew of volunteers to build a remarkable temporary public artwork for Bristol’s Victoria Park. The pavilion‐like timber structure, The Black Cloud, was commissioned by Situations at the University of the West of England, and designed in collaboration with architect graduate Sash Reading. It will act as a meeting point, performance stage and shelter for events and performances during its time in the park over the next four months.


The design is based on the Shabono shelters of Venezuela, which combine an exposed communal zone in the centre with sheltered living space around the periphery, and a permeable threshold into the surrounding jungle. The Black Cloud takes these abstract qualities into a new form with a triangulated timber structure that appears to be animated in its light interaction with the park. The form was resolved by taking a geodesic dome, removing the top and deforming the shape into a structure that provides varying degrees of shelter, height and permeability.


The result is a structure of 152 unique triangles that take on the lifelike character of a giant insect. The timber facade, sourced from the artists’ arboretum in Wales, was treated using a Japanese scorching technique, to create a dark, protective shield.  The Shape of Things to Come. Barn‐raising the Black Cloud was the first of three events initiated by the artists which involved raising the structure on 25 July, using local volunteer assistance alongside skilled labour. The arrival of the shelter was celebrated through communal feasting and music, reflecting the traditional Finnish talkoot and Amish barn‐raising, as well as den‐building workshops and story‐telling.


The Black Cloud will also be open for use by park visitors, local residents, groups and organisations throughout its temporary residency in the park. Combining a radical architectural intervention and a programme of events and performances which re‐imagine our responses to potential economic, social and environmental futures, The Black Cloud is proposed as a pioneering model for commissioning public art in parks. The title The Black Cloud is based on a novel by Sir Fred Hoyle in which The Black Cloud describes a large dark body of gas that prevents solar radiation reaching the earth, later found to be a sentient superorganism.

Posted on Friday August 21st 2009 at 12:00 pm by Jonny Jones. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • This is really nice.

  • justin

    wish the legs were more elegant. would work better if the legs weren’t triangular.

  • The form is very intriguing, in addition it is well integrated in this open space. As a design it is Audacious!

    Just keep going… :)

    Francois Beydoun

  • Mike
  • Justas

    really nice work- very lyrical

  • Luis Dias

    Shivans invading England!!! Go for the hills!!

  • Leo

    i like the legs! very cool!

  • YEAH! That’s great

  • Oh, that is lovely. Cloud or insect? Could be either. Delish.

  • m

    for some reason it gives me the association of the beachanimals of theo jansen (the big steel elephant)

    intriguing form indeed

  • jozu

    looks a bit clumsy to me

  • the mouth of a shark or a dinosaur, well congratulations design

  • Scarpasez

    Yes…this is excellent. The source typology in the Shabono shelters is key, and lends the project a clear discipline. And the form the designers manifested can be read in a multitude of ways even as it retains the fullness of its character from all angles. It’s playful and intriguing. Lovely work!

  • Kong

    I really like it ! Cockroaches on Attack !

  • difusoir

    I don`t know why, but it just looks like an insect, or at least some kind of giant space bug, especially from some angles.

  • For info, Ivan Morison will be one of our three guests at Art & Architecture for the next event “Nomadic Architecture II : Shed, Bothies and Retreats” , on the second of November 2009.

    Event details:

  • still loving this work

  • OliverGoliver

    Its like some dynamic armadillo racing across the landscape. Shame it couldn't roll into a ball to avoid the abuse.

  • Jon K

    animal, vegetable, or mineral?