max gerthel + tectonicus' breathing 'octopus pavilion' lights up beijing's baitasi district
max gerthel + tectonicus' breathing 'octopus pavilion' lights up beijing's baitasi district max gerthel + tectonicus' breathing 'octopus pavilion' lights up beijing's baitasi district
oct 03, 2016

max gerthel + tectonicus' breathing 'octopus pavilion' lights up beijing's baitasi district


beijing design week: max gerthel studio & tectonicus constructs have created a responsive, breathing octopus-inspired canopy for suspension over a disused storage lot at the centre of the baitasi neighborhood in beijing, china. called ‘the octopus pavilion’, the mobile is intended to serve as a hub for design week activities in the surrounding area. the temporary installation is part of the ‘soft city’ platform, a initiative that aims to change the way we think about contemporary urban infrastructure through a series of public workshops and forums that focus on ‘soft’ urban practices and development initiatives.





taking their cue from the fluid, multi-faceted movements and alien anatomy of the octopus, max gerthel and tectonicus have created a bouyant, pillow-like series of interconnected membranes capable of reacting and responding to movement and sound. the design of the structure references the extreme physical pliability of the octopus, its capability for expressive personality, and its intelligent, neuron rich skin; capable of a range of adaptive behaviors from camouflage and mimicry to misdirection and mesmerization.

each pillow is equipped with a sensor, allowing the octopus to react in real time



‘octopus pavilion’ is made of an array of pneumatic cells that can inflate and deflate as well as glow with colored light in response to activity in the site. each cell has its own sensors, micro-controller, fan and RGB LEDs, allowing it — though the supple nature of the connecting material — to react both independently and as an organic whole. through the sensors the pavilion responds to activities below, reacting to and mapping out the various unfolding events in the site and inviting interaction from beijing design week revelers. in this way, the pavilion hopes to become the literal beating heart of the baitasi neighborhood. over the course of the week the inflatable structure will play home to a series of ‘soft city’ themed panels, workshops, forums, performances, screenings and lectures.

the plaza is located in the heart of the baitasi neighborhood

the pavilion will play host to a number of events over the week

a central fan unit inflates each individual section

at night, the canopy lights up in response to stimulus below

the octopus hopes to become the beating heart of the baitasi neighborhood

the ‘soft city’ program aims to interrogate and challenge the way we design cities today

the installation was constructed above an empty lot, used to store recycled materials






project info:


design: tectonicus, max gerthel studio
team: jordan kanter, max gerthel, nicolas walz, amanda schwarz
technical support: k1nd
supported by: baitasi remade, embassy of sweden
thanks to: yang lei, sheng qiang the 2nd year architecture students of beijing jiaotong university



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: peter corboy | designboom


    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    502,545 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample