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Feeling reflective

Pernilla Ohrstedt

In 1970 in a Blimp hangar in Santa Ana, California, British architects Alan Stanton, Chris Dawson and Mike Davies of Chrysalis inflated, for the first time, the giant mirror dome which was to become the mind- blowing interior of the Pepsi Pavilion at the Osaka Expo. 

The interdisciplinary Chrysalis group originated at the University of California Los Angeles, and the dome is a beautiful example of its research into and obsession with lightweight structures. Accessed via an airlock, its reflective Mylar inside created seemingly real three-dimensional images floating in space. Deflated, the dome could be carried by one person. 

In fact the whole Pepsi Pavilion project was an experiment of interdisciplinary collaboration realised by 75 architects, artists and engineers. It was conceived and led by non-profit organisation Experiments in Art & Technology, launched by Billy Klüver and Robert Rauschenberg to facilitate collaborations between artists and engineers.

This picture was submitted by Mike Davies. Perhaps the RIBA archive needs more examples of investigative, temporary projects like those of Chrysalis, which, says Davies, were ‘collaborative, inventive, often unique, sometimes risky, occasionally downright dangerous and always fun ... [which] add a little more knowledge and adventure to the world of architecture.’

Pernilla Ohrstedt co-designed with Asif Khan the Coca-Cola Beatbox pavilion at the London 2012 Olympics