Cecil Balmond (Sri Lankan British, b. 1943) is an engagingly original engineer. Through his work at the London-based practice Arup and collaborations with such provocative architects and artists as Rem Koolhaas, Toyo Ito, and Anish Kapoor, he has brought radical structural concepts to a broad audience.
The principal component of Forum 64 is H_edge, an installation consisting of 6,000 aluminum plates suspended between stainless-steel chains held in tension. What appears to hang like metal ivy is revealed on closer inspection to stand from the floor. This “trick” allows for segments to turn and create a multidimensional structure that is surprisingly sturdy. Visitors are encouraged to meander and enter volumes that create a sense of enclosure but are paradoxically porous.
The design of H_edge is predicated on theories of the fractal—Balmond explains that the fractal “is a geometric idea that repeats at different scales.” An animated projection in the galleries explores one type of fractal, the Menger sponge, which is the model for H_edge.
Accompanying H_edge is a set of six illuminated boxes that offer a brilliant array of mathematical and structural references. Drawing from the European Renaissance, modern art, and detailed analyses of nature, each of the boxes explores a different theme: Numbers, Geometry, Proportion, Evolutionary Form, Time, and Equilibrium. In short embedded films, Balmond explains the tenets of his structural analysis, through sketches and footage of laboratory tests.
H_edge appeals to the brain and stimulates our human senses. It may inform gravity-defying building in the very near future.