The space blanket was first developed by NASA in 1964 for the Apollo missions at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Officially classified as metallized polyethylene terephthalate, it is lightweight, durable, and most importantly, reflective. Because MPET reflects ~95% of ultraviolet light, it has become one of the most widely used industrial materials for packaging, insulation, decoration, and emergency supplies. In response to a call for a temporary installation in the woods, we proposed a hyper-lightweight pavilion that repurposes the space blanket, simultaneously emphasizing its aesthetic qualities and material properties, called “Reflector.”

Reflector is a continuous, suspended strip of MPET, supported by a top and bottom ring, designed to reflect light into a densely wooded area in Conifer, Colorado. It relies on a minimal three-point structure, which gives it a soft triangular geometry in plan, but is detached below, leaving it to be deformed by external forces. The tension between above (which wants to be a triangle) and below (which wants to be a circle) creates a deformed three-dimensional primitive: a real-life “loft.” It is a non-volumetric inflatable that expands, contracts, and dances in the wind. Like a deformed or cracked mirror, it imperfectly reflects its surroundings, existing as a fractured, camouflaged object within a natural landscape.

The goal from the outset was to achieve the lightest possible structure with the strongest wind resistance. Sheets of MPET were seamed together using another favorite NASA material, metalized duct tape, and folded in on itself at the top and bottom to create two hems. The rings, made of extruded pipe insulation, were inserted around the hems. Finally, three one-foot pieces of PVC tubing were inserted to provide anchors for support.

Project Credits

Galo Canizares
Jose Canizares