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Sydney Harbour lights up for Vivid Festival

Kerry Boettcher
Thursday 04 Jun 2015

Students and staff from the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University create ‘Arclight’ installation for Sydney’s Vivid Festival

 The mangrove-inspired, Arclight installation is proving to be one of the Vivid Festival’s main attractions, with over 50,000 viewers on the opening night. 

The installation is inspired by Australia’s waterways, and designed to conjure the dense thicket of intertwining trees found in the native mangroves, through clustered synthetic branch structures and incorporating interactive lighting that responds to environmental conditions. 

Assistant Professor Chris Knapp from the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University has said: “The public’s response has been overwhelming. I have heard many people say ‘this is my favourite’ so that is a good sign. 

Led by The Abedian School of Architecture Assistant Professor Chris Knapp, Assistant Professor Jonathan Nelson, and visiting Associate Professor Andrew Kudless from the California College of the Arts, 15 Bond students have worked on creating the complex installation since late last year, in conjunction with the University of New South Wales.

Assistant Professor Nelson said: “The genesis of the concept was from the mangrove tree and the way the roots spread out and reach into the water. The weaving of the roots creates a unique ecosystem, a calm and safe environment that is home to young fish and other wildlife.

“The idea of our installation is that children can weave in and around the roots in the same way, while adults walk through the glowing branches as they transform in colour.”

The Arclight is made of HDPE plastic, the same material used to make milk containers, so the entire installation is recyclable. 1900 individually cut pieces are riveted together and lit from the inside by LED lights that slowly change colour.

Nelson said: “each of the pieces is quite complicated, with compounding curves, but through the use of digital fabrication techniques they have been developed so that they fit together seamlessly.”

“The opportunity to work on this project from conception to completion has been extremely valuable for our architectural students. It’s given them project management experience as well as the satisfaction of seeing their work at full scale.”

The Vivid Festival runs until 8 June, and is expected to be attended by over 1.4 million people, with Arclight forming part of the Vivid Light Walk that extends from Sydney Opera House around Circular Quay to The Rocks area. 

Kerry Boettcher

News editor

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