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Monday, May 15, 2017

Handcrafted in the digital era!

By Dhwani Shanghvi
Photography: ©2016-2017 Choi+Shine Architects
Read time: 3 mins  
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The Urchins and Lace are light art installations designed from hand-crafted crochet that interact with their immediate context through their textured weave and porous pattern…



Designed by Jin Choi and Thomas Shine for the iLight Marina Bay, Singapore, the Urchins are conceptualised under the theme of sustainability and biomimicry. The Marina Bay waterfront, anointed a sustainable precinct, aims to encourage sustainable practices in daily life through the iLight festival, thus mandating that the installations be created with energy-saving lighting and environmentally-friendly materials.
 
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The shell of the sea urchin, which has inspired the structure of the installation, is interpreted as a lightweight, soft and open form, whose rhythmic pattern sustains visual harmony. Translating these properties, the Urchin is fabricated from a repetitive pattern of crochet fabric, held in place with steel trusses, fastened by Dyneema cables. The diaphanous structure, supported on aluminium frame, is anchored using thin suspension cables - barely visible and only perceived through the kaleidoscope of shadows created during the day.
 
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Standing as a shelter against the sun, the installation transforms during the night to emanate light on its occupants. The permeable membrane of the fabric thus creates a dialogue between the ground and the man-made high rises that form the city fabric.
 
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The Lace, designed for the 2016 Amsterdam Light Festival, evolved around the theme of “The City of Amsterdam”, as a three-dimensional hovering canopy over the Herengracht canal. Viewed as an integral part of Dutch art and culture, Lace is sculpted as an undulating surface resembling a Dutch bonnet. The hand-crocheted weave alludes to the urban structure of Amsterdam, as a network of canals, rivers, roads, and squares, overlaid with a diverse population, while the hovering form is a manifestation of the city’s flight to the future. The weave is thus also symbolic of the network between the past and the present.

Structurally, the Lace is like the Urchin, built from Dyneema cords and polyester cables, suspended in tension. The lightweight structure comprises 18 rectangular and 32 triangular panels, each of which is illuminated with multiple light sources.  
 
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The floating Lace is experienced sequentially during the canal boat tours; the first impression being that of a remote mass of light reflected in the water. As one approaches the sculpture, the intricate details (a reflection of classical Dutch patterns), are unveiled on the porous canopy that seemingly encloses the space. The viewer thus experiences the sculpture both through its corporeal form as well as through its reflection in the canal below. As one cruises along, the canopy dips, as if to almost touch the occupant until it feints gently, freeing the viewer from its enticing clutches.
 
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The Light Art installations thus augment a sense of space and anchor visual memory through a simple familiar object that has been contextualised into a larger-than-life format.

Fact File:
Firm: Choi+Shine Architects
Designers: Jin Choi and Thomas Shine
Light Art Installation: The Urchin, The Lace
Location: Singapore, Amsterdam

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