Enagua - Welcome Tower for the Runway at Playa Vista Los Angeles

News /
15 May 2016

Kaynemaile Building-Armour & Ned Kahn collaboration. 

In November of 2012, Ned Kahn began collaboration with Architect Scott Johnson on the design of what was originally called the Welcome Tower for the Runway at Playa Vista. From the beginning, the intent was to merge art and architecture so that there was no dividing line between the two. The ribbed structure is intended to suggest a garment, rippling in the wind. Each rib supports 2 layers of a plastic chainmail fabric that ripples like the ocean in a storm when the wind picks up. 

For the last 25 years Ned Kahn has collaborated with architects and engineers to create kinetic facades that respond to wind and light. He has completed major projects in Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Japan, Australia and throughout the US. In 2009, Kahn wrapped a building in San Diego with thousands of pieces of aluminium chainmail. The metal chainmail was very time consuming and expensive to produce. A few years later he met Kayne Horsham, an inventor and founder of Kaynemaile seamless mesh from New Zealand, who had worked on the Lord of the Rings movies, creating chainmail for armies of Middle Earth. Kayne said the movies were going to be delayed waiting for the metal chainmail suppliers to fabricate enough. The engineer’s system clothed the armies quickly and kept the shoot on schedule. Kayne described the process as feeding plastic pellets into a machine that churns out assembled chainmail on the other end. 

The design of the artwork at Playa Vista evolved though extensive collaboration between the artist and Franklyn Berry, the engineer, Kayne Horsham, the founder of Kaynemaile Ltd, Patrick Ela, the art consultant, Scott Johnson and the staff at Johnson/Fain and the steel fabricators, Paramount Metals and Supply. Ned Kahn created a series of prototypes and tested them on a windy hillside next to his studio in Sebastopol. The result that they chose is Kaynemaile Building-Armour that expands when it billows gracefully in the wind. It is also exceedingly strong so it can handle even the fierce Santa Ana winds; in fact, the inventor made a trampoline out of it in New Zealand. 

Kahn says there is a wind channel right from the ocean into Runway which the Kaynemaile Building-Armour takes advantage of. It is kinetic and lively, constantly moving. He calls the piece “Enagua”, a Latin- American under dress that provides volume which the billowing fabric resembles. The name is also a play on the words En-agua, in water, since the wind over the ocean waters flows into Runway and blows over the Kaynemaile.

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