The hottest design during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was Speedo’s LZR Racer swimming suit, which helped American Michael Phelps and a host of other world-class swimmers break more than 90 world records with its aerodynamic fit and fabric. Its advantages led to the suit being banned by the Fédération Internationale de Natation, the international regulatory authority for swim competitions. It was a stretch, but the obsolete swim gear found new life as the Chelsea Xpo Pavilion, a fabric structure made of 4,000 pieces of Speedo LZR Racers.
Professors at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, England, wanted undergraduate students to complete an exercise in digital design, creating new uses for existing materials and sustainability; the pavilion fit all the criteria. Speedo sponsored the structure, located at the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground near the Tate Gallery in London. The tensioned design in black swimsuit fabric features tree-like legs and geometric flowers formed of silver suit detailing. The final design, created with Rhino 3D and Grasshopper digital modeling programs, was exhibited at the London Festival of Architecture 2010.