The Wrap of Polystyrene

With shaped of perfume bottle this unique building is ready to move like no other

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Hi, that the small jars contain large poisons is not always true, sometimes the large jars contain worst poisons, is a question of quality and not of size. That’s one of the reasons why I am looking for an island to build my future construction: there are large and small, deserted and overcrowded, of low altitude or of abrupt geography. They also have the advantage of remoteness that you will not find in a continent.

My eyes have settled in the Mykonos Island (and then my feet) in Greece, that has as main characteristic the overpopulation of churches and chapels because, in the past, its population was composed of pirates (normal) devotees and whenever they obtained “fortune” they built one. The name of the island is rooted in an ancient giant (Mykonos, son of the Anio King of Delos and grandson of the God Apollo) who perished in the war of the Giants (Gigantomachy) against the gods. It has the mythology that was thrown into the sea, next to the other Giants, in the form of stone (that stuff). On this occasion, I also posed my eyes (and then my hands) on a curious construction, unique architecture, and most unique Architect: Chanel Contemporary Art Container.

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The Wrap of Expanded Polystyrene

When it comes to use the imagination it is clear that not all the people are equal, me, Rodolfo, I see what others can’t because I have imagination and talent, so I wasn’t surprised when the friends of Chanel told me: “Let’s create a Mobile Museum!”, but, I thank enormously the attempt to “surprise”. Such is my preparation that, before they tell me in whom had thought for the design of the building, I tell the name: Zaha Hadid,the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize, but that is not all, the architect of Iraqi origin is an avant-garde of front line, revolutionizing forms and concepts using cutting-edge technology and setting new limits for the sinuous shapes of our buildings. She is a person who has already changed the world of architecture.

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The “wrap of polystyrene” (thus I call it I) was created with a particular reason: the journey of the works of artists of various generations and geographies (Yoko Ono, Wim Delvoye, Sylvie Fleury, Stephen Shore, and many more) by several of the most important cities of the world (Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Moscow, London and Paris). The idea is to create a movie in three dimensions within the Museum, so the visitor enters in the building with a MP3 player that guide mental and physically with music created by Soundwalk Collective (in direct collaboration with each artist). In 2011, having finished their long journey, the itinerant building was donated by Chanel for the Institute of the world Arab Jean Nouvel where you can visit in the heart of Paris, all a sign of generosity.

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But we going to the practical: the construction has 700 square meters distributed in a sinuous form of 29 x 45 meters and is made with an envelope of 400 panels of FRP (fiber-reinforced polymer materials), PVC and ETFE on the ceiling, and a structure made of profiles of aluminium and arches of steel of different shapes and sizes. The building has only a gateway, and its distribution is such that you travel in one direction, you cannot miss, even if you want, on the way you’ll enjoy works of art. As a central axis, the museum has a courtyard of 65 meters covered with glass where you can rest, disconnect the MP3 and ask other visitors about their experience, this also serves as the entrance of natural light, clear. On the outside exist a terrace of 128 square meters that, when required, can be attached for forming a spectacular recreation area.

The expanded polystyrene

The Stage One Company was responsible for the construction of 400 FRP panels with curves of enormous technical complexity, such was the complexity which had to develop a different manufacturing system by taking advantage of their knowledge and technology, this required of computer design methods to optimize its construction. The manufacturing time (and the cost) was reduced in the 50% compared to traditional manufacturing methods (I love the traditional term). It must be borne in mind that the panels have shapes and sizes in all three dimensions, this, along with the use in its elaboration of different materials combined with flame retardant resins and the need to support extreme loads of wind, did that they devoted a broad workshop of 1,500 square meters exclusively to the project.

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The FRP walls are stuffed inside with a well-known building material: the expanded polystyrene. This material is mainly used as thermal insulation in walls and floors or roofs. It has a low density (between 10 and 50 kg/m³) which makes it a material light weight and easy to handle. Its composition is based on bubbles of air occluded in a cellular structure of polystyrene (almost 98% of air volume), is not a hygroscopic material (property absorb and expel water from a material) reaching only between 1 and 3% of water absorption, has an excellent performance in impacts of varied nature, this makes it ideal for the packaging of various products. The expanded polystyrene can reduce 35% consumption energy of a building, if used correctly and with the right design.

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As disadvantages we have that it is easily disaggregated, is flammable and can be attacked by various chemical agents, also as finishing have frankly deterrent aesthetics. It is evident, therefore, that this material must be always protected by others more enduring as the FRP, the aluminum or mortars of different fracture.

Before I go, I supported the palms of the hands on the wavy surface of the Museum, as a farewell, what I felt is something that cannot be described: better to live it. Bye bye.

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