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Inflatable theater to house 2009 multi-media performance

Projects | February 1, 2009 | By:

Every year since 1994, London-based Arts Alliance Productions (AAP) recreates “ID: Identity of the Soul,” a multi-media performance based on poetry by Henrik Ibsen and Mahmoud Darwish. Dancers navigate around graphically manipulated landscapes, projected on screens made of materials as varied as a Norwegian lighthouse and sails draped over Japanese shipping containers.

The 2009 performance, however, will take place in the largest portable theater in the world. AAP commissioned Various Architects, Oslo, Norway, with developing a flexible, movable facility to house the event. Architects Jim Dodson and Ibrahim ElHayawan didn’t want the large, lightweight theater to look like a circus tent, and decided that a rigid inflatable structure would best serve the client’s needs.

The 40,900-square-foot Mobile Performance Venue features self-supporting exterior walls that consist of inflatable PVC hexagons and translucent cushions, creating an elliptical, light-filled honeycomb. A 36-foot tall circular aluminum frame, wire cables and a hovering tension ring suspend five video screens in the open-air venue that seats 3,500 people. The Mobile Performance Venue can be constructed in two weeks and will make its debut this year in Berlin and London. It was selected as one of 17 gold recipients of the Spark International Design Awards, a new competition focused on innovative processes and technologies. For more information about the Venue, visit

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