FTL dresses up the Singapore showcase for haute couture designer Louis Vuitton’s newest store.
Louis Vuitton Asia Pacific’s request was to develop an iconic custom solar shade skin for the flagship “Island Maison” at Sands Marina Bay, Singapore. The project is located in a floating “Crystal Pavilion” designed by Safdie Architects, an asymmetric building with irregularly angled façades, sited one degree north of the equator.
FTL’s challenge was to create a solar shade system that acts as a backdrop for the interior designed by Peter Marino Architect. The innovative panel design is the first of its kind: an off-set frame that is ultra flat, fully tensioned with no frame or shadow lines at its edges. The final design covers virtually all 2,323m2 of interior façades and roof and is suggestive of LV’s nautical themes. Key design considerations included sun shading, UV protection, natural illumination, acoustics, visual control and lighting enhancement, all crafted within a strict minimalist aesthetic.
The solar shades are designed as a modular, fully tensioned flat panel system comprised of a powder-coated aluminum frame with stainless steel hold-offs wrapped in a fabric skin. A typical panel in the system is trapezoidal—approximately 1.5m by 4m and 51mm deep, weighing less then 68kg each. The frame is wrapped in two different fabric skins, expanded PTFE for the ceiling panels and PVC-coated polyester for the wall panels. The panels are arranged in linear strips and attach to the building’s steel columns by custom stainless steel fasteners. The fasteners are fully articulated and adjustable in three directions to make up for inconsistencies in the base structure and to provide a level continuous surface. The wall panels are demountable for maintenance and cleaning of the glass façade, requiring only a two-person crew and lift. The ceiling panels by contrast are hinged at one end and have an integrated hoist mechanism to allow for serviceability.
The design is a unique solution to extremely complex set of functional, aesthetic and technical requirements. First, unlike off-the-shelf fabric panel systems, the panels for LV required no visible framing or shadows at their edges. Second, the base building’s geometry (which has no right angles) presented a particular challenge. In addition, control of direct sunlight and views to the exterior were of prime importance to protect the displayed products from UV damage, focus the customers attention on the interior and help cool the space.
Extensive studies where made to understand and find the proper balance of natural light, view and aesthetic. The regular pattern of panels is selectively interrupted to frame key views. Finally, the fabric panels were to function as a skin to enhance the quality of lighting both natural and artificial. During the day, the solar shades provide a uniform quality of volumetric light, a soft glow that compliments the store’s interior finishes and displays. At night the shade system acts as a reflective surface to bounce interior light inward, creating a more enclosed sense, while simultaneously providing an exterior facing surface for nighttime lighting to reflect outward. The design won FTL a 2012 Award of Excellence from the Industrial Fabrics Association International.