Shining a light on Amsterdam

Nick Myall
Thursday 15 Dec 2016

The Eye Beacon uses light sequences to alert visitors to its dual function as both a sculpture and an information point

Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual light art festival. Artists, architects and (light) designers from all over the world bring their light artworks and installations alive during the festival every winter.

The inspiration for the design of the Amsterdam Light Festival info booth pavilion originated from the theme of this year’s festival, biomimicry: the imitation of natural phenomena for the purpose of solving complex human problems.

The design by UNStudio and MDT-tex is specifically inspired by the deep sea world, where living organisms counteract the darkness of their environment by employing bioluminescence - often hypnotic pulsating light - as an attraction and communication mechanism. This magical vivid world formed the starting point for the sculptural, yet functional pavilion.

The Eye_Beacon serves as both an attraction point and a ticketing/information booth for people visiting the festival. Located on the western side of the ‘Blauwbrug’, next to the river Amstel, the pavilion acts as a connection between the ‘Watercolour’ canal route and the ‘Illuminade’ land route.

Ben van Berkel of UNStudio commented: “Similar to deep sea creatures that use bioluminescence to signal, attract and inform, the Eye Beacon uses choreographed light sequences to alert visitors to its dual function as both a sculpture and an information point for the festival. Along with the effect of the pavilion partially overhanging the Amstel River, the twist that connects the two halves of the structure emphasises the crossing point between the land and water routes of the festival.”

For the structure, two cube forms are connected to one another by twisting surfaces. This results in 250 panels with uneven dimensions and therefore required the parametric optimisation of these surfaces to ensure efficient fabrication and installation.

Focused LED projections present gradient colour changes on the inside of the tensile structure, resulting in a constantly changing composition of light and colour.

Materialised from a partnership between UNStudio and MDT-tex, all surfaces of the pavilion are constructed from tensile textile modules that together create a pattern of openings and reveal glimpses of the interior. MDT-tex designed 2d and 3d textile units which enable the twisting connection of the two cubes, resulting in a sculptural form strengthened by its components.

Markus Müller-Feist, Managing Director and Owner MDT-tex said, “The collaboration between UNStudio and MDT-tex, combined with the expertise that MDT-tex has built-up over the years, led to the development of new forms that required innovative and advanced textile engineering. The evolution of the form-finding and technical translation to contemporary future orientated sustainable materials marks the ‘twist’ within this outstanding partnership”.

Inspired by Ben van Berkel’s dual function concept, MDT-tex’s facade system is already designed for the future use of lighting and water harvesting systems.

Nick Myall

News editor

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