Lightscapes

Installation at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia 2016 Venice / Italy / 2016

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The 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia curated by Alejandro Aravena, has 88 participants from 37 different countries. Included among the participants is Transsolar KlimaEngineering and German architect Anja Thierfelder, with their piece Lightscapes – Local identity, exploring a forgotten resource. The objective: To reproduce the atmospheric phenomenon of visible sun rays as an aesthetic and immersive experience. The message: Working with the unique qualities of a place releases the place’s potential to endow buildings with a strong identity.
The Biennale Architettura is one of the most well-respected art exhibitions in the world. This year, it takes place from May 28th to November 27, under the title “Reporting from the Front”. Its artistic director Alejandro Aravena, is a Chilean architect and this year’s Pritzer Prize winner.
As usual, a part of the exhibition is located in the Arsenale, a collection of buildings which were formerly shipyards and armories. The Arsenale offers an extraordinary experience for its visitors: while walking through the various installations and works, one is dwarfed by the buildings’ lofty ceilings and massive columns. One exhibit along the way is Lightscapes by KlimaEngineering experts Transsolar and German architect Anja Thierfelder. It recreates the natural phenomenon of crepuscular rays (also known as sun beams, sun rays, Jacob’s ladder).
The idea for this light-choreography arose out of the cooperation between Thierfelder and Transsolar, between architectural aesthetic and technical art. In order to make the light beams visible, one must have the knowledge and skill to manipulate a room’s thermodynamic conditions.

Only a particular configuration of humidity, temperature, stratification and air movement in the room can bring Lightscapes to life and make a rain of light for the visitors’ enjoyment.
Like many other Transsolar projects, they drew on prototype testing and years of experience to ensure success of the installation. One of the technologies employed for the display is a high-pressure nozzle system which supplies the room with the required humidity. The usual source of crepuscular rays is sunlight, but none enters the room. There were neither existing skylights nor could skylights be added (due to the protected status of the heritage building). Therefore light beams from twenty spotlights extend diagonally across the dark room, and enter a dialogue with the symmetry and rhythm of the room’s columns.
The light beams are static however different impressions are offered depending on one’s location. When one enters the room, one sees shafts of light that appear to radiate and expand from a single point. As one walks to the side, one will notice that the light beams are actually parallel to each other. With her deft artistic sense, Thierfelder conjures a magical setting. By defining the position, direction, brightness and spread of the light beams, she transforms the space into a dramatic play between light and darkness.
A poem, engraved in the wooden floor, describes the potentials which belong to any site in the world. Five wooden ladders scattered throughout the room symbolize stairs to the heavens. Didactic texts at the entrance and exit explain the physical phenomenon of crepuscular rays for the visitors.
Lightscapes is not an esoteric exercise; in fact, it contains a message for all. With their installation, Klimaengineer Matthias Schuler and architect Anja Thierfelder wanted to inspire others to sharpen their senses: “Seek out and delve into the local identity of a place and let its potential help you define your buildings and cities!” This is how bespoke, sustainable and aesthetic solutions can arise and distinguish themselves from global architectural trends.
An example of this theory transformed into practice is the new Louvre Abu Dhabi. Transsolar analysed the complex physical elements which cause crepuscular rays (including the high dust content, which is characteristic of Abu Dhabi), in order to realize the rain of light desired by architect Jean Nouvel.

Exhibition dates
Biennale Architettura 2016 curated by Alejandro Aravena:
May 28th to November 27th, 2016 Lightscapes by Transsolar und Anja Thierfelder in Arsenale, Room 8.

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    The 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia curated by Alejandro Aravena, has 88 participants from 37 different countries. Included among the participants is Transsolar KlimaEngineering and German architect Anja Thierfelder, with their piece Lightscapes – Local identity, exploring a forgotten resource. The objective: To reproduce the atmospheric phenomenon of visible sun rays as an aesthetic and immersive experience. The message: Working with the unique...

    Project details
    • Year 2016
    • Work finished in 2016
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Exhibitions /Installations
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