Inflatables Workshop – Animating Matter

During the Petchey Academy workshop, we designed, constructed and inflated a large-scale membrane structure to house and frame a collective ritual. This could be as simple in nature as a private conversation, or as elaborate as a tea ceremony.

Students worked in a direct and hands-on manner, learning to scale up designs from paper maquettes to a large inflatable in the space of hours. They were encouraged to explore relationships between architecture and performance, both in terms of the drama of the construction (or inflation) of the piece, and the way that bodies interact with the completed structure.

We worked with plastic sheeting, heat sealing seams and inflating using electrical fans. Students got an understanding of fluid pressures, while mastering a technique favoured by radical architects since the 1960s as cheap, fast and easy to replicate. The ability to conceive and execute grandiose formal gestures in a matter of hours allowed students to test spatial ideas while empowering them to initiate their own projects.



Gabriel Warshafsky and Rachel Yemitan

In association with UCL’s widening participation