Leviathan, Paris

Client: Anish Kapoor
Object: PVC inflatable sculpture with public access inside
Project Start: March 2010
Project Delivery: May 2011

Anish Kapoor has a long-standing working relationship with Aerotrope, which dates back to Chris Hornzee-Jones' successful engineering of large public art works ‘Cloud Gate’ in Chicago and ‘Sky Mirror’ in New York (polished stainless steel). Other works engineered by Aerotrope use diverse materials such as rusted Cor-Ten steel (‘Memory’), grease-wax (‘My Red Homeland’) or fog for an indoor tornado (‘Ascension’). This makes engineering each piece a unique and complex task- sometimes ‘only just’ possible. Aerotrope enjoy the challenge of translating Kapoors artistic vision into structurally sound and visually elegant engineering.

For Anish Kapoor's Leiviathan, Aerotrope carried out the feasibility study and engineering design of this inflatable sculpture. The large scale artwork was then installed in the Grand Palais in Paris for the exhibition 'Monumenta 2011'.

 On ‘Leviathan’ the structural engineering covered the following tasks:

  • Form finding
  • Structural overview of the inflatable
  • Design of the clamping system
  • Design of the inflatable entrance
  • Inflation system and input into the design of the inflation ducting
  • Technical project coordination
  • Detail design

Aerotrope worked closely with the tensile engineering consultancy “Tensys”, sculpture fabric fabricators Hightex, clamping structure fabricators MDM, and Paris local authorities.


  • Material specification: single skin air-supported PVC-coated polyester.
  • Structure: held up solely by 400 Pascals air pressure, without any additional cables.
  • Overall dimensions of the sculpture: 100m length x 72m width x 34m height.
  • Surface area: 12000 m2, 62.000 m3
  • Estimated inflatable fabric mass: 10,7 tons.
  • Installation phase: 8 days