Dezeen Magazine

The Yorkshire Diamond Pavilion by Various Architects

Norwegian practice Various Architects have sent us these images of their design for a mobile pavilion, one of three finalists in a competition organised by Yorkshire Forward.


The project is constructed from a network of inflatable tubes that are arranged in a pattern derived from the atomic structure of diamonds.


The winning pavilion will be located at various sites in Yorkshire and Humberside, UK, and used for small gatherings or large events such as film screenings or concerts.


The following information is from Various Architects:


The Yorkshire Diamond Pavilion is a unique and iconic venue that is designed to represent Yorkshire Forward at events around Yorkshire and Humber or further abroad. The project is an attraction in itself with a striking exterior in the form of inflatable tubes arranged in the atomic structure of diamonds. The 20 x 26 x 10 metre diamond grid volume is mined out to form a cavernous interior space reminiscent of the coalmines of Yorkshire. Light and airshafts pierce the structure providing natural light and ventilation.


At night the translucent shafts and outer skin radiate light in all colours and directions like a diamond twinkling in the sunlight. A focus on flexibility gives the pavilion multiple configurations that allow it to be used for everything from small gatherings to large conferences or public presentations. The voluminous internal space will surprise and delight when installed in close quartered public squares. The pavilion can also be turned ‘inside out’ to open up a large covered area to open outdoor spaces to create the ultimate mobile venue for concerts or big-screen events.


Innovative sustainable features that can generate energy during transport and while installed, together with lightweight recyclable materials will demonstrate Yorkshire Forward’s commitment to the environment wherever the pavilion is situated. Creative new uses of existing proven technologies make this pavilion design possible to produce and operate for a reasonable price. With it’s inflatable structural skin, the Yorkshire Diamond is as lightweight as possible to reduce travel weight and packing volume, which in turn reduces the carbon footprint for transport of the pavilion. The project also features innovative uses of natural light, natural ventilation, and recyclable materials.


The Pavilion uses tried and tested inflatable technology consisting of pressurised tubes in a new and stunning way. The diamond-lattice structure creates a stable 3D superstructure enclosing the project. This adds stability to a series of domed shapes that are a triangulated network of tubes with dual-layer inflated cushions on each side to provide in-plane stiffness. The outer cushion of the volume is translucent, giving the volume visual depth; the inner layer is a white blackout fabric that allows the inner space to be darkened during the day. A 2m x 2m structural flooring grid with adjustable legs provides a stable base for the project. This is weighted down with the two shipping containers the project is transported in, and additional water filled weights to limit the need to transport heavy foundations.


The tubes are precision cut by a computer controlled CNC machine to give wrinkle-free forms when inflated, even on the complicated geometry shown here. A pressurisation system of controlled fans placed in sound dampened compartment of one of the shipping containers provides stable air pressure to the structure. The entire structure can be inflated in 1 hour. Once inflated, the airtight tubes require only an occasional corrective inflation that uses little electricity and emits little sound. The final product has a solid look and feel.


The structural inflatable skin is specified as a fire retardant, PVC coated, UV stabilised, high tenacity, woven polyester base cloth (Ferrari Precontraint 402 or similar). The inflatable skin is 100% recyclable using the Texyloop process. Due to the constant monitoring of pressure by the fans, the structure will remain standing even if punctured or vandalized. Minor repairs to the skin can be made on-site, and larger segments can be repaired or replaced seamlessly in the factory.


Secondary materials for use in the floor system, furnishings, and exhibition panels should be chosen from the Green Guide for material specification to assess the environmental impact of the material. Where possible only materials with an ‘A’ rating should be chosen.

Our energy goal for the project is to generate enough power locally to be able to inflate the structure upon arrival to a new site, maintain air pressure, and power the general working lighting and outside effect lighting at night. This would also make it possible to install and use the basic structure on sites off the grid. The inclusion of two different forms of renewable energy gives the system diversity and redundancy. It also and turns the installation into a mobile demonstration of renewable energy technology. Information tracking how much energy is being generated can be a part of the internal display.

Solar panels would be mounted to the top of the two modified 20’ shipping containers used to transport the structure. A rack of batteries mounted in the containers stores the energy generated for use. This allows the project to charge during transit between installations such that it will be ready for deployment. A small wind turbine (Quiet Revolution or similar) is to be mounted to one of the containers after the structure is fully inflated. This will add additional energy to the batteries and can provide energy throughout the night or on cloudy days. Compressed air is an alternative way to store the energy generated, and should also be investigated in the next phase. With current technology it is not feasible to generate all the power necessary for all of the possible functions of the pavilion. The functions with high-energy demands, such as the internet cafe, film screenings, or concerts would need an alternative power source. The additional power for these should be sourced from environmentally friendly sources where possible.

The Pavilion is designed for maximum flexibility in two ways. Firstly, the modular construction system allows for the several basic configurations of the structure. Secondly, by providing a generous, open, and column free interior floor space of 290 m2 that can easily be subdivided for a variety of different uses. The inflatable structure is split into two modules that allow it to transform dramatically from a closed volume with a cavernous interior space to a very open and extroverted pavilion depending on the desired use and site location. The movable portion of the structure can also be deflated independently to quickly convert to a covered stage for outdoor concerts, allowing for a major change in the projects appearance in the same day without requiring major structural changes.

By providing ample interior space the project can be used in a number of different ways depending upon the furnishings and partition walls. The 2m x 2m grid of floor panels each have slots in their centre and corners. These slots accept a series of lightweight rods and panels that can be used to create modular exhibition walls or room dividers. The larger of the two main spaces (200m2) can be divided from the smaller (90m2) by a double layer inflatable wall that connects to the exterior skin via a pressurized hose. This division gives two usable spaces of varying sizes with a completely integrated feel.

The pavilion is transported in two modified 20’ shipping containers. The inflatable construction considerably reduces initial setup time compared to traditional structures, giving more time for fit-out and rigging. The inflation is an event in itself that can take place the same day as the pavilion arrives, making its arrival into town a public event.

The project brief calls for heating and cooling of the structure, this can be provided via ducts under the raised flooring system with a sound dampened plant in one of the shipping containers. However, this project is designed to minimize the need for mechanical ventilation by facilitating controlled natural ventilation. The light-shafts which provide natural light to the central space can also function as solar chimneys to extract air from the interior spaces. Airflow through the space can be regulated using operable flaps on the shafts, low-level air vents around the perimeter, and the entrance doors. The double layer construction of the inflated cushions also provides a level of insulation not possible with a single layer fabric construction.


Architect: Various Architects AS, Oslo, Norway
Project leader: Jim Dodson
Project team: Aleksandra Danielak, Camilla Eduardsen, Ibrahim Elhayawan, Tom Gam
Structural and Sustainability Engineers: Ramboll Whitbybird
Inflatables consultant (phase two): Tectoniks