« previousBack to all projects 

U2 PopMart Arch

The PopMart set was designed by frequent U2 collaborator Willie Williams and entertainment architect Mark Fisher.  Between them they developed several concepts for the PopMart stage including one giant 15 x 50 meter (50 x 165 foot) LED video screen behind the stage.  It contained over 100,000 pixels, each holding eight LEDs.  The video screen was the largest in the world at the time.

The bright yellow Popmart arch was built around a load-bearing structure of roof masts, which also supported the central orange coloured PA cluster.
The lightweight yellow composite panels were attached to the masts by custom-designed rollers mounted on their back faces via laser cut steel bracketry.   The rollers ran on heavy-duty curtain tracks that were attached to the frame.  The rollers on the backs of the panels allowed the panels to be attached to the tracks at ground level and hoisted into place from above, avoiding most of the safety problems associated with hoisting and installing panels at height.  The cladding for the arch proceeded in parallel with the assembly of the video screen, taking less than three hours to complete.

As there was to be only one set of cladding panels they were to be transported by air between venues with the band's instruments and other equipment.  It was important therefore that they were light and durable.  Custom made dolly's were manufactured to ensure they arrived in good condition.

The composite cladding panels comprised aluminium honeycomb core faced with epoxy reinforced glass fibre. The panels were manufactured flat and then folded using techniques first developed for the construction of aircraft interiors.  Every panel had unique geometry and included a safety eye for the attachment of a safety wire.  This ensured that if a panel were to break free it would not fall to the ground and cause injury.
Panel were edged with spindle moulded timber edges which allowed the panels to connect together structurally when installed, providing a seamless appearance.

Many of the panels had lighting hose installed in recesses along their edges and associated rear mounted quick connect electrical junction boxes to provide additional lighting effects for the arch.  Several panels had cut-outs for Vari-Lights mounted within the arch. 

The set was designed to withstand the 100 year wind load case and early in it's life did experience a severe storm which damaged substantial parts of the set including the LED screen.  The composite panels were undamaged.
Credits: Stufish, Atelier One, Tom Royle

U2 PopMart Arch

Click the image to view the construction movie. Video by Mark Fisher Studio.