Papillon D'Or: Parametric Installation for Festival des Architectures Vives Montpellier

Ioana Cristina Nan (Artist)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


The parametric installation Papillon D’Or has been developed in collaboration with external partners from industry, for the Festival des Architectures Vives 2019 in Montpellier, France. The computationally generated structure contains approximately 400 self-similar — non-identical — components, forming together a suspended discretised minimal surface. The double skin of the installation is made out of PETG, a transparent plastic and golden static cling vinyl.

Papillon D’Or represents a continuation of the author’s investigative line focussing on computational design, geometric optimisation and low-cost, hybridised material strategies. Research in the field of computational design and digital fabrication advances at a fast pace, and current modes of practice shift rapidly. The originality of Papillon D’Or is related to the panelisation strategy in relation to an optimised and efficient strategy of assembly-disassembly-reassembly. The installation has a volume of 6.5 x 5 x 7m; all components are planar and can be fit within two A1 artist portfolios, with a total weight of 21kg. The computational correlation between design, fabrication, material as well as assembly/construction sequence resulted in a highly specific solution (design related) which as a strategy and system can be applied to other light-weight structures.

The project investigates four aspects: 1) computational panelisation strategies, 2) material efficient design and fabrication strategies, 3) joining systems and 4) strategies of assembly-disassembly-reassembly. Initial research focussed on form finding strategies for minimal surfaces. The following steps of research were developed simultaneously as they are interrelated, part of the same computational loop: geometry-material-joints-fabrication strategy- assembly sequence. A series of prototypes at a scale of 1:3 were built, exploring different geometries, joining systems and materials (paper, PETG, different vinyls, modified acrylics).

The installation, exhibited for a full week at the Festival, has won the People’s Choice Award at the Festival in Montpellier, with over 1600 votes from locals and visitors. Papillon D’Or has been promoted through the Festival’s official webpage and diverse media channels, was also on the front cover of the newspaper Midi Libre, covered on TV by the France 3, published in magazines, such as artdeville and shared on relevant external social media platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventFestival des Architectures Vives: FAV - Festival of Architecture - Montpellier, France, Montpellier, France
Duration: 10 Jun 2019 → …


  • computational design
  • digital fabrication
  • minimal surface
  • parametric


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  • Festival des Architectures Vives

    Cristina Nan (Advisor)

    Jun 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Festival/Exhibition

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