The V&A has unveiled a striking new pavilion to the public, kicking off the museum's Engineering Season. The Elytra Filament Pavilion is the product of a collaboration between German architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer. Although conceived by humans, the pavilion was constructed by robots – highlighting the emerging role robot technologies are playing in architectural design, engineering and making. The forewing shells of flying beetles (known as elytra) inspired the structure of the piece, with each component created using a carbon fiber winding technique that creates a product that is simultaneously strong and light, weighing less than 2.5 tonnes. A very modern creation, the pavilion will continue to interact with the environment around it, using sensors in the canopy fibres to collect data on how visitors inhabit the structure, informing how it continues to grow.
The new installation marks the start of the V&A's landmark exhibition Engineering The World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design, running until the 6th of November – the first ever retrospective of the philosopher-engineer's pioneering work. A key figure in the world of design, Arup was famous for his all-encompassing philosophy of 'Total Design' which joined together the work of architects, designers and engineers in new ways. The exhibition will trace the stories behind some of the world's most famous buildings including the Sydney Opera House and Centre Pompidou in Paris, revealing how Arup and his firm influenced the creation of these iconic buildings. The exhibition and pavilion form part of the museum's Engineering Season which also includes a series of displays, events and digital initiatives which will explore London's place in the international design community.