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IBM Travelling Exhibition, London site
grounds of Natural History Museum, London
associated engineer
Ove Arup & Partners
Peter Rice
date  1982 - 1984
era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ265790
The IBM Travelling Exhibition was housed in a prefabricated pre-finished pavilion designed by architect Renzo Piano. It visited 20 European cities, including London and York, in 14 countries between 1984 and 1986.
The pavilion was a transparent vaulted composite structure, 48m long by 12m wide. Acting both as the glazing element and as part of the structural web, polycarbonate moulded pyramids were fixed together to form three-pin arched bays 12 pyramids per bay, 34 bays making up the length of the building. The height at the apex of the vault was 6m.
The pyramids measured 1.4m by 1.5m with a depth of about 800mm. Curved timber structural ribs ran up both the inside and outside of the polycarbonate web. No cladding was needed. The fixings were metal brackets and plates, which ensured accurate and secure joints. Dissimilar materials were bonded together using adhesive, the joints being specially prepared for this. Thermal expansion was allowed for in the design of the metal joints.
The pavilion had its own suspended timber floor under which its service ducts were located. The floor was levelled using a series of adjustable jacks.
The whole process of relocation took about three weeks and the components were driven from site to site in specially built container lorries. The locations chosen were high-profile in London it was erected in the grounds of the Natural History Museum. Wherever possible wooded leafy areas were selected, which provided some natural shade for all the glazing but still made use of summer's high daylight levels to light the interior.
The pavilion was manufactured to very high quality standards and finished in a way that suggested a high level of craftsmanship. However, the batch production of identical components confirms it as a system building.
Architect: Renzo Piano, Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Research: ND
"Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Complete Works, Vol I"
by Peter Buchanan
Phaidon, London, 1993
"High Tech Architecture" by Colin Davies
Thames & Hudson, London, 1988

IBM Travelling Exhibition, London site