South Kensington was created as one of the world's first cultural quarters with the purpose to encourage cross disciplinary inquiry to improve our knowledge and understanding of the world.

With each edition of the Exhibition Road Commission, we will address a different challenge, in line with our vision, developed in conversation with the artist whose proposal wins the competition. Tomas Saraceno was the first artist to be selected by our jury and took part in a residency programme in October 2016. His question is how can we improve our understanding of aerial ecosystems and, learning from the natural world, achieve sustainable progress in society.

Tomás Saraceno

Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno enjoys an international reputation as an innovator and visionary thinker. His engaging, experimental practice expands the conventions of art, architecture and science and their capacities to envision alternate ways of being and inhabiting the world. He is internationally recognised for his fantastic architectural proposals, pneumatic sculptures, and spectacular environmental installations.

An artist trained as an architect, Tomás Saraceno deploys insights from engineering, physics, chemistry, aeronautics and materials science in his work. He creates inflatable and airborne biospheres with the morphology of soap bubbles, spider webs, neural networks or cloud formations, which are speculative models for alternate ways of living.

For more information on Tomás, visit

The Aerocene Residency at Exhibition Road

Aerocene, an open artistic project by Studio Saraceno, manifests as a series of air-fuelled sculptures that will achieve the longest, emission-free journey around the world: becoming buoyant only by the heat of the Sun and infrared radiation from the surface of Earth. The sculptures float without burning fossil fuels, without using solar panels and batteries; and without helium, hydrogen and other rare gases.

Through October to December 2016, Aerocene came to Exhibition Road for an interdisciplinary artistic project co-produced by the members of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group, gathering together leading cultural and educational institutions in South Kensington. Aerocene provides a collaborative research platform between Exhibition Road members and wider communities.

“Aerocene is to imagine a metabolic and thermodynamic transformation of human societies’ relation with both the Earth and the Sun. It is an invitation to think of new ways to move and sense and live with the circulation of energy. And, it is a scalable process to repattern atmospheric dwelling and politics through open source ecology of practices, models, data and sensitivity to the more than human world. The Aerocene proposes airborne cities floating among clouds, just as the Earth floats in the cosmic plane.” Adaption from Saraceno, Englemann and Szerszynski, (2015:59).