Project name: Biolumen Lab
Material used: Nylox 88
Fabric Supplied by: Industrial Textiles

What did the client request?

The purpose was to provide an interesting and relevant space for secondary school pupils to experience a week of science based learning, generating curiosity and promoting science as a potential career path.

“Biolumen lab is an experience, an environment and a place to learn and try out new ideas, through combining scientific and creative arts and methods of exploration. It allows people to get to grips with how our genes shape us. This is done through extracting and sequencing DNA from plant and fungi. The resulting strings of numbers and letters are then used to control the light and sound environment of the Biolumen lab at the end of the week long experience.”

What is unique or complex about the project?

Our client had a vision to turn a heart organoid into a cell based classroom, the DNA would then be used at the end of the week long experience to create a light and sound show. The inflatable needed to represent the shape of a cell to tie in with the practical learning of the space.

The structure was double walled, using pad eyes placed at strategic placings to create random bulbous sections on the inflatable to represent the cell. Given the light weight fabric used, there ended up being a tremendous amount of pressure on these points, we initially had issues with the pad eyes popping off near the inflation point and such had to use a lower volume blower which made for slower deflation but eliminated the problem.

Our client wanted to engage with all ages, and allowed for ‘curiosity holes’ so people could peer through from the outside to see what was on the inside. Rounds of clear PVC were placed at odd intervals around the organoid to allow people to be involved without entering the structure. The holes also allowed people to see the inside workings of the inflatable which was a bonus for our client as it very much tied in with the entire concept of the Biolumen Lab.

What were the results of the project?

The Biolumen Lab has just had its first outing at the beginning of April in Christchurch. The unit represented the cell well and matched our clients brief, particularly with the way in which it was able to be interacted with, people being able to see and understand the workings behind the creation was very much a key aspect for our client.

Is there any other relevant information?

The biggest challenge was coming up with a system to house lighting strips on the inside to allow the lights to be fitted at any angle. We came up with a Velcro pad system with a fixture to house the light tube brackets, the pad then fixed to opposing pads on the inflatable itself which could be applied so the fixtures were in any orientation.