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Ribbon provides wayfinding with an aviation theme

Graphics | March 1, 2008 | By:

The project. Imperial War Museum, Duxford Airspace, Monmouthshire, United Kingdom.

The company. Architen Landrell Associates Ltd. Designed by Fraser Randall.

The task. The project was charged with providing wayfinding, to guide visitors around the museum space, while seamlessly tying in the aviation theme.

The challenge. The design needed to be fluid, dramatic, and functional in a space that spanned more than one level. The client also wanted to create the illusion of traditional style war planes speeding above the museum.

The solution. The Flight Path, an undulating, twisting three-dimensional ribbon, was created to guide visitors from one exhibit to another. This structure not only provides a dramatic visual cue to lead visitors through the exhibition, but is used in a number of ways to enhance the displays themselves.

Presenting large, bold-printed graphics, its surface forms a projection screen for audio visual presentations and a backdrop for effects lighting. This helps to identify distinct areas of the exhibition, giving different areas a sense of enclosure, and a surface on which to present various materials, or aircraft components.

The banner is made up of a single 1.8 meter by 225 meter metal frame, broken down into smaller panels, and suspended from cables. The ever-changing, three-dimensional structure provides a complex form. Created with Trapeze Plus from Dazian Fabrics, a stretch material made from Lycra, and then dyed and printed with the aeroplane silhouettes, the fabric was chosen to be as malleable and flexible as possible. ‘Socks’ of the fabric were made and then stretched over a steel frame to create a perfectly smooth and continuous ribbon.

The result. The exhibition, commended by the Imperial War Museum, is a prime example of the advantages of using fabric, rather than traditional building materials in an installation. This project received an Award of Excellence in the IFAI 2007 International Achievement Awards competition.

Janet Preus is the editor of Fabric Graphics.

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