Hutchison 3G retail pod

We were commissioned by Hutchison 3G to produce a point-of-sale fit to represent a cutting-edge brand at the forefront of the technology sector. We teamed up with Foreign Office Architects to produce a self-supporting curved glass ‘igloo’ which could be adapted to fit a variety of scenarios.

The original scope was to use triangular pieces of glass with ‘node’ fixings, in a method similar to our much-lauded glass wall at Southwark Underground station, but it was found that in this three-dimensional shape, where the fixings were visible on either side, and each shape needed to be individual, a different system needed to be proposed.

We opted for hexagonal glass pieces as a more economical choice than triangles, since these shapes tessellate more readily on glass sheets. Since the shapes would need to adapt for each individual installation, of which over twenty were planned, yet still be self-supporting, each structure had to be able to fold and unfold, incorporating curves and straight edges and sometimes forming small, private pods.

We undertook finite element analysis, generating computer models to understand the effects of various fixings and shapes. During these initial stages we considered nodes and hinges, including invisible fixings made from a strong transparent plastic, but this was expensive and the layer of complexity it introduced outweighed the benefits.

We went on to create full-scale mock-ups of the proposed structure, placing emphasis on ease and speed of assembly. We created a simple joint where only two glass tiles met, similar to a door hinge. The universal fixings were stainless steel, and allowed the architects to develop a variety of hexagonal patterns; to prevent collapse we introduced a simple locking mechanism. This prototype model also allowed us to put theoretical assumptions about acoustics to the test.

Curved glass ‘igloo’ point of sale sculpture for the mobile phone giants

Hutchinson 3G UK
Foreign Office Architects