Providing shelter is the starting point of architecture, protecting us from the elements. Most often our roofs are angled or flat, heavy and opaque. In exceptional cases, we experience a more ephemeral condition, a light and transparent structure, allowing for a totally different relationship with our surroundings.
Spiky is a conic expanded metal mesh canopy, suspended on steel poles, that activates the urban public space of the Beijing Olympic Park. The system creates a flexible and artistic gesture, and it can be composed of anywhere from 9 to 25 modules. Material research led to an innovative use of expanded metal mesh, which comes from the nearby northeastern region of China. From this standard economic product, we studied cutting techniques and methods to control geometry to come up with a design that could be expanded so that a two-dimensional sheet becomes a three-dimensional form – it takes shape and has a spatial experience.
Through optical effects of the mesh, Spiky uniquely frames the world around us, feeling simultaneously solid and porous depending on the users’ perspective. This ambiguity draws visitors to the structure to discover the modular, conic roof.
Spiky is an artistic gesture that falls in a fuzzy zone between building and art. Through its thought-provoking shape, Spiky re-imagines the role of art as a component in public space. We hope that it might stir the thoughts of its visitors and allow them to reflect on how we interact with the built environment around us.