Volvo Cars recently unveiled the “Pure Tension pavilion” in Milan, Italy. The pavilion – a spectacular free-standing tensioned membrane structure – is a rapidly deployable and portable solar charging station for the world-first Diesel Plug-in Hybrid.
“Pure Tension pavilion” is the winning project in a competition for architects and designers held in May and commissioned by Volvo Car Italia.
The “Pure Tension pavilion” was shown for the first time at an event in Milan to mark the official launch of the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid in Italy. This May Volvo Car Italia in collaboration with the magazine for Architecture and Technologies “The Plan” organized a competition for architects and designers to create a pavilion for the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid. The contest received over 150 entries from all over the world.
The winning structure was created by Alvin Huang’s Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), with offices in Los Angeles and London. Following SDA’s competition win, the project entered the production phase during the summer. The structure took shape between July and September in Chicago under the care of Fabric Images; a company specializing in this type of design creation. Its final assembly and first functional testing took place in October in Bologna, close to the head offices of Volvo Car Italia.
Portable solar charging station
With its strong visual impact, the “Pure Tension pavilion” conveys a complete sense of absolute mobility, demonstrating flexibility and efficiency through Volvo Cars’ hybrid technology. The pavilion is a flexible mesh structure held in place by carbon fibre rods and is embedded with photovoltaic cells so that it can absorb energy from the sun or indoor lighting. The car will ‘plug’ directly into the pavilion’s skin, charging its battery with the energy collected over the day.
Given its highly innovative nature, Pure Tension has directed significant interest towards the Volvo Car Group, and more precisely to the Volvo Monitoring & Concept Centre (VMCC). Based in Camarillo, California, the centre assesses all elements of Pure Tension’s future potential (including the cars, infrastructure and technological prerequisites that it would need to function in).
Michele Crisci, President of Volvo Car Italia, eloquently summarises: “We have rewarded an idea that is fantastic, simple and at the same time highly sophisticated from a creative point of view. I expected a project that was able to convey what is fundamentally Volvo Cars, which in addition to safety, means quality, environmental sustainability, functionality and making technology available to everyone. In this, we have it all. And to see it brought to reality increases the buzz that the initial idea generated even further.”
An innovative mind-set
Alvin Huang, founder of Synthesis Design + Architecture and an award-winning architect, designer and lecturer says: “We are thrilled to have had the chance to see our winning project come to light thanks to Volvo Car Italia. We have also been lucky enough to work with really talented and motivated partners and suppliers who believed in the project right from the beginning: companies like Fabric Images, where the structure physically took shape, FTL Solar and Ascent Solar Technologies who took care of the solar panels, and Seam Design and IGuzzini with the lights. The creation of ‘’Pure Tension’ is proof of how modern and innovative Volvo Cars’ mind-set is. The Pure Tension pavilion demonstrates performance, form and technology, just like the new Volvo cars. The structure also anticipates a vision of the future of electric recharging — the car doesn’t go in search of it, instead it goes where the car goes.”
The Volvo “Pure Tension pavilion” is an experimental creation and demonstrates possible future methods to provide sustainable power to electric cars. The “Pure Tension pavilion” is not planned to be put into production in the near future.