ARGELÈS-SUR-MER – Led by architect Marc Fornes, Theverymany is a New York-based studio that engages art and architecture using a computational process realized with digital fabrication. The firm’s most recently completed project – Pleated Inflation – is an informal amphitheatre located on the grounds of a high school in Argeles-sur-mer, France.
Research into lightweight, self-supporting systems that unify skin, structure, ornamentation and experience have led the studio to develop a series of arrangements for ‘structural shingle’. The project strikes a balance between structural performance and spatial experience. Fornes explains, ‘The design was developed through custom computational protocols of structural form finding, descriptive geometry and stress flow-driven porosity,’ resulting in a voluminous skin constructed with minimal lightweight material. Pleated Inflation is assembled of 990 aluminium shingles, each digitally prefabricated to ensure maximum strength across the whole form. Overlapping pleats create a continuous configuration, adding rigidity to the structure.
The project is part of the French 1% Artistique programme, which ensures one percent of any budget for the construction of a public building is allocated to some form of artwork. In addition to being an energetic and eye-catching sculpture, the amphitheatre doubles as a functional space for the public realm. Upon entering the organic configuration on a sunny day, students become encompassed by a shower of twisted light rays and ornate shadows cast by the perforated pleats. A layer of vibrant colours add a playful boldness, inviting students to approach and explore the construct.