Parasites exhibition

The owners of the iconic Battersea Power Station in London commissioned us to put on an exhibition to showcase technologies that could potentially be used in its redevelopment. This exhibition would take place in the grounds of the dilapidated power station itself.

There had been several attempts to revive the fortunes of the power station over the previous decades but all had failed. This was largely due to the planning restrictions associated with the building and surrounding land. Complying with these had meant that schemes for the redevelopment of the site were not financially viable.

The power station, equivalent in size to the Pompidou Centre in Paris or two Tate Modern museums, was going to be a difficult volume to fill. This was especially the case given that every square inch of it had to generate revenue. For this reason, we called the exhibition ‘Parasites’.

In order to stretch the budget, we designed components that could provide multiple uses. One example of this was the central atrium’s fire curtain, which was large enough to wrap a jumbo jet. If they were lucky, it would never be used.

Working with Buro Happold Engineers’ fire department to retain the curtain’s ability to prevent fire and smoke spreading, we designed technology and infrastructure that could exploit the curtain’s vast surface. The curtain was transformed into interactive information boards that not only updated visitors on current events but could respond to your movements and direct them to areas they may wish to visit.



A scaled version of the fire curtain, with rotating segments responded to movement via a webcam located within the ceiling. A live camera feed was projected onto the surface.


Time lapse video of the fire curtain responding to human movement via a webcam and set of motors located within the ceiling


MAX/msp, a modern program, which utilises human and environmental interactivity to perform functions was used as the operating system. These command functions could be activated by a number of sensors, such as movement captured via web cams, to perform specified tasks from activating a motor to turning on a light.