It’s a wrap: the Water Cube for the Beijing Olympics (Photo: Getty)

Picture, for a moment, the buildings you really loathe – the ones you think are such a brutish affront to humane urban life that they should be flattened. The NatWest tower in London, perhaps? Or, if you want to think mendaciously big, what about the whole of the centre of Croydon? Now re-imagine them, but this time encased in giant condoms. You needn’t be too shocked, because that’s exactly what a trio of Australian-based high-tech architects called LAVA are proposing – and they’ve said the Barbican in London is a suitable case for treatment.

The idea of sheathed buildings is not entirely trivial. And the forms that LAVA, or the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, are proposing raise fresh ambiguities about architectural causes and effects. Will buildings with high- tech skins make architecture an increasingly superficial experience; or are we seeing the first strange expressions of a new kind of environmental design? These designers are not just theorists. Led by Chris Bosse, and working with engineers, Arup, LAVA created the visually and technically advanced bubble-wrap that formed the weirdly cellulitic facades of the Water Cube at the Beijing Olympics. This is very much can-do technology.

More

The Independent

Advertisements