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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Festo – Upside Down Balloon Illusion

Festo – Upside Down Balloon Illusion
  • On January 1, 2006

I’ve mentioned Festo a couple of times over the past few months because they are producing great new dynamic materials and components which can be applied to interactive architecture like the work the Hyperbody Research Group are doing at Delft. I’ve also been doing a considerable amount of research into inflatable interactive architecture for a piece I’ll be revealing soon so when I saw this lovely piece of trickery I knew I had to post it.

Built by manufacturing company Cameron Balloons the upside-down balloon appears at first glance to be standing on its head. In actual fact, there is a concealed cabin on the underside and a further dummy cabin on the top. Festo’s two hot-air balloons are often seen together. The reason is simple: As the upside-down balloon rises into the sky, it requires guidance. Its unusual design, with its integrated cabin beneath its skirt (or lower envelope), obscures the pilot’s vision, meaning that he is required to fly the balloon blind. He therefore needs directions from the accompanying balloon, particularly during the tricky landing phase.

Article by Wired on Festo

The two balloons side by side also of course help to exaggerate the spectacle. Using ‘invisible technology’ Interactive Architecture can often employ these ideas of Illusion or Magic to make the mundane seem extraordinary, I speak briefly in a recent interview with the HMC MediaLab on this idea of Magic “when it’s impossible to work out exactly how something is happening, that’s where the magic comes in, that’s when the a project really ignites an exciting response.” Read the Full Interview here.


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