It can be hard to communicate lighting effects via sketches and renders, and it wasn’t until we made a working model of the installation that the wider design team started to understand its potential and the qualities of the light and materials. The model showed aspects that were otherwise difficult to simulate, like the warm molten-like glow of the metal catching adjacent lights and the animation of the undulating form when the observer’s perspective shifts.
The model was at 1:1 scale based on an initial system of fibre optic splays from light projectors, each strand of which was to be threaded through an individual metal tube. The model replicates this with 5mm-diameter plastic tubes, sprayed with a metallic copper colour paint, at 30mm spacings. In total, the model used 27.5m of tubes. Fibre optics were considered, as they allow the light source to be distant from where the output is observed, bringing maintenance benefits. The model represents about 1.2% of the overall area of the final installation.
The model allowed the client and design team to make informed decisions about the final scale, form and finish of the installation. Once Mindseye, a specialist lighting designer, joined the project, the system changed to LED with larger tubes with a longer, more uniform drop and increased spacing between the tubes.
The final installation comprised 1,820 bronze anodised aluminium rods. It reads as an undulating canopy of delicate lights suspended across the ceiling void, above which the varying lengths of richly bronze-coloured tubes glimmer in shadow, exaggerating perspective and further accentuating the height of the space.