Lightscapes | Local identity – exploring a forgotten resource | Architecture Biennale 2016, Venice

Lightscapes | Local identity – exploring a forgotten resource | Architecture Biennale 2016

The idea for this light choreography arose out of the cooperation between Anja 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, Anja 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 of local identity which belong to any site in the world. Five wooden ladders scattered throughout the room symbolize stairs to heaven. 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.

» lab "Rain of Light" for Louvre Abu Dhabi
» mock-up testing "Rain of Light"
» construction and realization of Rain of Light