Vermilion Sands is a temporary pavilion for a summer arts festival. It makes an unprecedented use of hydro-seeding, a common method for planting large areas like freeway embankments, to create a living canopy that blurs the distinction between nature and artifice and demonstrates a new avatar of sustainable material processes at the architectural scale. In order to provide a shaded space during the day and an ethereal social space at night, the canopy is comprised of 260 custom-fabricated modules, each shaped from a geotextile fabric, which were hydro-seeded with either clover or ryegrass, grown in a nursery for 30 days, and then suspended from a grid of aircraft cable. The result is a space that is abstract and pure, yet heterogeneous and biotic.
To irrigate the plants an array of 150 nozzles are integrated into the canopy. The mist sustains the plants while offering adiabatic cooling for users. At the same time, LED lighting is incorporated into the columns to uplight the modules and misting plumes. The combination of lighting and mist produce an atmospheric ambience.
Vermilion Sands is the title of a collection of short stories by JG Ballard. In this sci-fi text, each story focuses on a particular design or artistic medium in which nature is hybridized with technology to produce magical results - for example, living fashion and cloud sculptures. Within our Anthropocene, where the ability to disentangle the 'natural' from the 'artificial' is fleeting; we can only hope that the sustainability of the future will be increasingly populated with designs akin to those in Ballard's prescient texts. It is our fantasy that Vermilion Sands the canopy could be set within Vermilion Sands the book. The research embodied in this project, in our opinion, is a significant part of the effort to find the best possible sustainable futures.