While exploring the analogies between “Architecture” and “Fashion,” two of the most important industries in the creative design industry, we see that “Design” and “Creativity” are key factors in both architecture and fashion, as both industries require imagination, art, visualization, creativity, and talent.

This article about Smiljan Radic Designs’ Transparent Dome is a great example of a structure that merges fashion and architecture.

Alexander McQueen Show in London to feature a Transparent dome designed by Smijan Radic - Sheet1
Smiljan Radic’s Transparent Dome_©worldarchitecture.org

Smiljan Radic’s design style

To give a brief intro to the legendary Alexander McQueen who was a global fashion mastermind and the former head designer of the Louis Vuitton-owned Givenchy fashion label. He was noted for his spectacular fashion shows, which were inspired by theatrical performance and drama. McQueen’s work was praised for its unique blend of rebellion and tradition, which could be seen in his ‘Bumster’ pants, sharp frock coats, corroded materials, ripped leather and torn, flesh-revealing lace right from the start.

Alexander McQueen’s return to physical exhibitions following the coronavirus pandemic was proclaimed with an opulent bulbous and avant-garde edifice built by architect Smiljan Radi, a long-time associate of the fashion business. After a 20-year sabbatical, this was the brand’s debut presentation in London.

Alexander McQueen Show in London to feature a Transparent dome designed by Smijan Radic - Sheet2
The roof of the multi-story car park building in a Tobacco Dock_©worldarchitecture.org

The transparent dome was designed by the Chilean architect for Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2022 fashion showcase in London, United Kingdom.

The display, dubbed London Skies, was held on Tuesday, October 12th, 2021, under a magnificent bulbous dome constructed on the roof of a multi-story car park building in Tobacco Dock, a converted tobacco warehouse that is now used for huge private and commercial events.

The Theme 

According to Sarah Burton, Creative Director of Alexander McQueen, the latest edition intended to celebrate “the environment in which we live and work, in London, and in the elements as we experience them each day.”

The wooden seats, which are arranged around a circular scenario, attract the viewer’s attention to the new creations. Burton was inspired by the weather and “recorded dynamic nature, from pure blue skies to more tempestuous ones,” as he “caught the development and coloration of clouds from daybreak to nightfall and captured the formation and coloration of clouds from dawn to dusk.”

“That led me to storm chasing. I love the idea of the McQueen woman being a storm chaser, of the qualities of storm chasing uniting the passionately individual community of characters wearing the clothes,” she added.

Alexander McQueen Show in London to feature a Transparent dome designed by Smijan Radic - Sheet3
The furniture layout_©worldarchitecture.org

Burton also added – 

“We moved from water – and the mud on the banks of the Thames – to the sky and the ever-changing, all-encompassing magnificence that represents. The artwork for the prints in this collection was shot from the rooftops of the studio where we are lucky enough to have the most incredible views of the city: from Saint Paul’s Cathedral to the London Eye.”

Smiljan Radic’s fashionable design

Smiljan Radic’s collaboration with Alexander McQueen was inspired by the shape and hues of clouds, and the architect created a translucent bubble on a circular foundation. – keeping in context of the theme. A matrix of steel tensile wires supports the bubble’s translucent membranes. Radi collaborated with ES Global, a structural specialist, and Gainsbury & Whiting, a creative agency, to manufacture the structure.

The exhibition space was created to be quickly dismantled, relocated, and utilized for a variety of purposes, including teaching and cultural events.

The area was erected on top of a massive platform supported by a patented scaffolding system, which was purposefully left exposed at its sides to disclose the skeleton of its construction given the nature of the car park’s sloping surfaces. The exhibition space bubble’s internal entry was deliberately situated at the back of the rooftop site, allowing attendees to roam around the space while taking in panoramic views of London’s cityscape.

The furniture layout at the venue also works in great collaboration with the chic theme of the event and the whole aesthetics of the design. Two sets of undulating rows of collapsible wooden chairs were provided as seats for the fashion show’s audience within the domed, cloud-like bubble.

Alexander McQueen Show in London to feature a Transparent dome designed by Smijan Radic - Sheet4
Reflecting the storm Chasing theme_©worldarchitecture.org

A series of stairs ascended from beneath the plywood stage at the center of the area, within a loose circle of seats, where models entered the area once the show had begun.

The stage design is in line with Alexander McQueen’s aim, which is to showcase “ordinary parts of London” at the event. Numerous vents in the floor pushed air into the bubble to keep it inflated, while air-locked, revolving doors kept escaping air at bay. The area and its services were powered by a generator installed on a lower level of the parking lot. Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) was used to power this, which is a renewable diesel equivalent derived from food waste, vegetable oils, and agricultural wastes. The overall structure speaks volumes about the design philosophy of semi-permanent structures in modern-day architecture.

Alexander McQueen Show in London to feature a Transparent dome designed by Smijan Radic - Sheet5
inspired by the shape and hues of clouds_©worldarchitecture.org
Alexander McQueens theme for the event_©London Skies_en.vogue.me

References- 

World Architecture Community. (n.d.). Smiljan Radić creates transparent bubble for Alexander McQueen’s show in London. [online] Available at: https://worldarchitecture.org/architecture-news/emznn/smiljan-radi%C4%87-creates-transparent-bubble-for-alexander-mcqueen-s-show-in-london.html [Accessed 23 Oct. 2021].

ArchDaily. (2021). Smiljan Radic Designs Transparent Dome for Alexander McQueen Show in London. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/970275/smiljan-radic-designs-transparent-dome-for-alexander-mcqueen-show-in-london [Accessed 23 Oct. 2021].

Victoria and Albert Museum. (2017). V&A · Alexander McQueen – an introduction. [online] Available at: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/alexander-mcqueen-an-introduction.

Dezeen. (2021). Smiljan Radić creates inflated transparent bubble for Alexander McQueen show. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/10/15/smiljan-radic-alexander-mqueen-spring-summer-2022/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2021].

Author

Abhishek Guha is an architecture undergraduate who wishes to create life altering spaces & experiences through his designs . His interests - writing, fashion, and cooking, are as erratic as he is. As a spontaneous extrovert who enjoys meeting new people, he seeks knowledge about the architectural paradigm while exploring the world.

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