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Bubbling beauty

June 1st, 2015 / By: / Feature, Projects

Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) film installations are often used to create transparent roofs and viewing areas. In this cushion system installation, the film was used to construct a decorative display in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture to inspire creativity in Hyogo’s youngest residents. Photo: Covertex Membranes (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.
Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) film installations are often used to create transparent roofs and viewing areas. In this cushion system installation, the film was used to construct a decorative display in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture to inspire creativity in Hyogo’s youngest residents. Photo: Covertex Membranes (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.

Pedestrians passing by an otherwise common-looking concrete wall in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture now get the chance to see an ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) film and cushion system installation in all its beauty.

Architect Endo Shuhei of Osaka, Japan-based Endo Shuhei Architecture Institute designed the 99-square-meter structure, and the system was fabricated by Covertex Membranes (Shanghai) Co. Ltd., Shanghai, China, using ETFE film from Asahi Glass Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan.

Panels created from the clear fluorine-based plastic film are inflated with air for a pillowy, transparent, bubble-wrap-like look that forms a decorative display against the concrete wall of a city building. The façade lends a modern air to the area, while passersby have the chance to become familiar with the ETFE material and cushion system.

Completed in January 2013, the Hyogo Prefecture installation is the smallest ETFE cushion project Covertex Membranes has completed, and the size added unique issues to the building and siting of the display.

3986aOne such challenge was the client’s limited budget. Even though the installation was small, a complete—and not inexpensive—air supply system with monitoring and controlling function was needed. To cut costs, an ordinary blower system from Japan’s local market was purchased. Even so, it far exceeded the maximum blower pressure needed for the installation, but to get around the problem, the air pump was used in combination with a German-made pressure-reduction valve system. This resulted in a low-cost way to properly pressurize the pillows and to bring a moment of peace and beauty to those who view the installation from the street.

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