Cecil Balmond OBE is a Sri Lankan – British designer, artist, architect, and writer. In 1968 Balmond joined Ove Arup & Partners, leading him to become deputy chairman. In 2000 he founded design and research group, the AGU (Advanced Geometry Unit).
He currently holds the Paul Philippe Cret Chair at PennDesign as Professor of Architecture where he is also the founding director of the Non Linear Systems Organization, a material and structural research unit.He has also been Kenzo Tange Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Architecture, Saarinen professor at Yale University School of Architecture and visiting fellow at London School of Economics.
In 2010 Balmond set up his own architectural practice, Balmond Studio, with offices in London and Colombo. The research led practice is involved with art, architecture, design and consulting. One current project is the Gretna Landmark, Star of Caledonia for which Cecil is the artist. It is an illuminated sculpture that marks the Scottish and English border crossing, and will be completed in 2015.
He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to architecture.
He went to Trinity College, Kandy and later studied engineering at the University of Colombo. After living briefly in Nigeria he moved to Britain and continued his studies at the University of Southampton and at Imperial College, London.
Balmond sees his work as an open-ended visual application of theory, following the principle that "structure as conceptual rigour is architecture". His approach to structure is derived by theories of complexity, non-linear organisation and emergence. Through his research, Balmond investigates mathematical concepts and their influence on natural forms and structures, interrogating algorithms, fractals, rhythm and cellular structure.
Life and work
Ove Arup & Partners
Balmond was deputy chairman at Arup. The AGU at Arup brought together architects, mathematicians, programmers, artists, musicians and scientists. It investigated structural systems, delving to the roof of order and patterns and engaging with music, algorithms, and malignant cellular structure to create abstract concepts that inspired tectonic forms.Under Balmond's artistic direction at the AGU, Balmond worked on some of the world's most famous structures including the Centre Pompidou-Metz with Shigeru Ban and CCTV tower with Rem Koolhaas.
Balmond has also been a creative force behind London's Serpentine Pavilion programme. The Ito-Balmond Serpentine Pavilion, 2002 was crafted in glass and white-painted aluminium and featured a scatter of lines, the product of an algorithm designed by Balmond. The pavilion is now located at a luxury hotel in South of France. Balmond also designed pavilions with Daniel Libeskind (2001), Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura (2006) and Rem Koolhaas (2006).
Balmond set up his own studio and workshop in London 2010. Balmond's own designs are numerous and include Weave Bridge, a bridge for University of Pennsylvania (2010), the Pedro e Inês footbridge in Coimbra (2006) and a $400m mixed use development in Asia.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit is designed by Balmond and Anish Kapoor. It is a 120m high sculpture designed for the 2012 Olympics in Stratford, London. Balmond also collaborated with Kapoor on Marsyas a sculpture which was displayed in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern (2002), and also co-designed the giant Tees Valley art installations with Kapoor. Other key works by Balmond include a radical masterplan for Battersea Power Station (2006) and the Victoria & Albert Museum extension with Daniel Libeskind (1996).
Selection of Current Projects
Art and Architecture
The Star of Caledonia sculpture, England/Scottish border (being built for 2015)
Snow Words light sculpture, Alaska (completed in 2012)
2012 ArcelorMittal Orbitt, London
net_ Work sculpture, Canada (completed in 2012)
$400m mixed use development, Asia
Tower complex in Asia
Shade structure The Cloud for the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona
2006, Informal, Arc en Reve, Bordeaux France
2007 H_edge, Artists Space, New York USA
2008 Frontiers of Architecture, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
2009 Solid Void, Graham Foundation, Chicago USA
2009, Forum 64 Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh USA
2010 Element, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo Japan
1970–1973 Carlsberg Brewery, Northhampton, UK. Architect, Knud Munk
1975 Qatar University, Doha, Qatar. Architect, Kamal Kafrawi
1978 -1984 Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany. Architect, James Stirling
1983 Royal London House, Finsbury, London. Architect, Sheppard Robson
1985 1 Poultry, London UK Architect, James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates
1988–1992 Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid Spain. Architect, Rafael Moneo
1989 Congrexpo, Lille France. Architect, OMA
1992 -1999 Abando Passenger Interchange, Bilbao, Spain. Architect, James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates
1994 Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Architect, OMA
1995–1998 Pavilion of Portugal in Expo'98, Lisbon. Architect, Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souta de Moura
2005 Serpentine Gallery (Alvaro Siza and Souto Moura).jpg
1996 Victoria & Albert Museum, Spiral, London. Architect, Daniel Libeskind in collaboration with Cecil Balmond
1997 Centraal station, Arnhem, Netherlands. Architect, UNStudio
1997–2001 Imperial War Museum North, Salford, UK. Architect, Daniel Libeskind
1998 Portuguese National Pavilion Expo 1998, Lisbon, Portugal. Architect: Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura
1998 Maison a Bordeaux, France. Architect, OMA
1999 University of Graz Music School, Austria. Architect, UNStudio
1999–2004 Seattle Central Library, USA. Architect, OMA/LMN Architects
1999 Casa da Musica, Porto, Portugal. Architect OMA (2005)
2000 Portuguese Pavilion Expo 2000, Hannover, Germany. Architect Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura
2000 Prada, Los Angeles, CA USA. Architect, OMA (2004)
2001 Serpentine Pavilion, London UK. Architect Daniel Libeskind with Arup
2002 St Francois d'Assise. Olivier Messiaen stage design and costumes. Daniel Libeskind with Thore Garbers. Artistic consulting, Cecil Balmond
2002 Serpentine Pavilion, London. Architect Toyo Ito with Balmond
Serpentine Pavillion 2002-2.jpg
2002 Marsyas, Tate Modern, London. Sculptor Anish Kapoor
2003 Battersea Power Station Masterplan, London.
2003 Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza, Cairo. Architect, Heneghan Peng Architects
2002–2008 China Central Television Headquarters, Beijing (CCTV). Architect, OMA
2002 Installation of Louis Vuitton, Tokyo, Japan. Architect, Farjadi Architects
2002 British Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale. Design Chris Ofili with AGU and Adjaye/Associates
2004–2009 Centre Pompidou-Metz, France. Architect Shigeru Ban, Jean de Gastines and Philip Gumuchdjian
2004 St Louis Forest Park, MO USA. Architect Shigeru Ban with Cecil Balmond
2004–2006 Pedro e Inês bridge, Mondego River. Coimbra, Portugal. Design Cecil Balmond/AGU with Antonio Adao da Fonseca/AFA
2005 Serpentine Pavilion, London. Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond
2006 Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, Taichung, Taiwan. Architect Toyo Ito and Associates
2006 Serpentine Pavilion, London. Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond
2007 Tees Valley Giants, UK. Cable Net Sculpture, Middlehaven. Artist Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond
2007 Hotel Le Beauvallon masterplan, Saint-Tropez, France. Architect Cecil Balmond and AGU
2008 Institute of the Pen, Medina, Saudi Arabia. Design Cecil Balmond/AGU
2009 Weave Bridge, University of Penn. Architect, Cecil Balmond/AGU
2012 $400m mixed use development, Asia
2012 Tower complex, Asia
(1995) Natur und abstraction: lehrstuhl Jose Luis Mateo
(1996) Unfolding architecture: The Boilerhouse extension
(1997) New Structure and the Informal
(Prestel 1998) No 9, The Search for the Sigma Code
(Prestel 2002) informal
(2002) Anish Kapoor : Marsyas
(2002) Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
(2004) Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond
(2004) Concrete Poetry Concrete Architecture in Australia
(2005) Serpentine Pavilion 2005
(2006) Serpentine Pavilion 2006
(2007) Frontiers of Architecture
(Prestel 2007) Element
(2008) A+U Cecil Balmond, Special Edition
(Prestel 2013) Crossover
2002 Gengo Matsui prize, Japan, engineering
2003, RIBA Charles Jencks award for Theory in Practice.
2005, Sir Banister Fletcher Prize
2011, IED Gerald Frewer Memorial Trophy
2011, Prince Philip Designers Prize shortlist
2013, Snow Words – 50 best US public artworks of 2013, Public Art Network.
Professional Associations & Teaching
1970, Member of the Institution of Structural Engineers
1992, Honorary Architectural Association Diploma
1998, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects
2009, Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineering Designers
2000, Visiting Kenzo Tange critic, Harvard Graduate School of Architecture
2002–2004, Professor LSE – Urban Cities Programme
1997–2002 Visiting Saarinen Professor, Yale University School of Architecture
2004 Paul Phillipe,Cret Professor of Architecture, Penn Design
2005 Director, NSO, Penn Design