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Tempo, Husnes, Norway

Issue 42 Apr / May 2008 : Architectural : Façade

Architect: LEAD INC Lighting Design: ARNE GRØNSDAL

Architects Lead Inc and Lighting Designer Arne Grønsdal have created a Ligh_Tecmasterpiece influenced by Duchamp

Tempo is a monument marking the 40 year history of a multinational aluminum manufacturing plant in its hometown. This high-tech/light-tech structure is an engaging piece of public art in the middle of roundabout in Husnes, a small industrial village on the outskirts of the Hardangerfjord in west Norway. It is made to respond to its natural and manmade surroundings while celebrating the progressive spirit of its community and patron.
Focusing on ideas regarding industry, technology, materiality, natural/built environments, context, and motion, Norwegian architectural firm LEAD Inc looked into contemporary basket weaving and Marcel Duchamp for inspiration. Their intrigue with basket weaving is related to the notion that the art and the craft are not discernable in the origins of this ancient art form whilst their interest in Duchamp’s work and in particular the “Nude Descending a Staircase” was rooted in the dynamics of perception at the roundabout.
Ali Heshmati of LEAD comments, “Our approach to public art is rooted in our architectural work. All work of art is public to some extend but for an art work, located in public place, to achieve the status of public art, there needs to be an active relationship between the object and its public. We set out to design a light-tech structure that is both engaged and engaging. The outcome engages the diurnal and seasonal changes in the natural environment while engaging the cultural life of the community. It is meant to bring pride and energy to the place. More than 30 individuals from the local community were involved with the construction and installation of the work.”
At 60° north during the winters there are only a few hours of daylight while during the summers there are only a few hours of darkness. Light as a natural element has a mysterious and precarious relationship with the Nordic culture and landscape. Therefore light became a major force in LEAD’s conceptual design approach from the outset.
“Light, as one of the major elements of art, can produce cultural engagement and dynamism that is unparalleled,” says Heshmati. “We see light as a material with objective quality capable of producing unique atmosphere. Colour, texture and vibrant qualities of light are of extreme importance.”
‘Without the clouds, sunset is an ordinary affair’. This was the premise behind LEAD’s design approach. Needing a material that could render the light visible in an unusual and dramatic way one of the major components of the structure is fabric. In their search for the fabric a major consideration was how it would relate to light transmission and projection. Tenara from Gore-tex was chosen with 40% transmission and 60% reflection which best suited the purpose of the design.
LEAD’s fascination with light as an animator with dynamic and engaging qualities grew stronger as they engaged the services of lighting designer Arne Grønsdal of CP-Norway. Together they tested the fabric sample in his studio before settling for RGB LED fixtures. But the lighting design work had just begun. Grønsdal worked to find the perfect fixtures, lenses and ultimatel mounting method and location for projection within the tight budget that was left for lighting. It was important to find a perfect balance between the technical aspect of the lighting and the finished product as well as the benefit of the energy saving of LED lighting.
“Together we decided that the technology needs not to overwhelm the effect and the appearance of the sculpture,” says Grønsdal. “The final appearance could not be compromised with the addition of fixtures.”
The team also had to test some of their ideas and theories in real scale. Therefore they spent a whole day in the welding hall where the aluminum structure was under construction to test the lighting. This was the first ‘dressed rehearsal’ as they had to bring some fabric to test the lighting scheme. Ultimately they decided to use five LED fixtures on top and one on the bottom to have a smooth transition and a softer and a fuller light volume. 306 watts of RGB LEDs illuminate the structure during the dark hours while daylight produces amusing shadow play of its own.
The appearance of the structure changes dramatically by the changes in light and its coloration making it very dynamic and curious. LEAD’s interest in the presence as opposed to technology allowed a balanced approach to coloration and timing. They worked with complementary, contrasting and monolithic colour variations between the top and base sources with smooth timing transition that at times takes up to ten minutes. In this way the passers by see the sculpture in a new light every time without seeing rapid shifts of colour. Light has brought life to the piece and has rendered its appearance unpredictable, hence ever engaging and engaged.
The project has already won several awards including the AIA Small Project and Honor Awards, the Norsk Lyspris from Lyskultur and the International Achievement Award from Industrial Fabrics Association International.

Lighting suppliers
Inground : 1 x Tryka TR-IG36-25-YY Mod.36 IP67 RGB Inground Colour Changer 36W

Topring: 5 x Ayrton ModuLED 318 Carbon, 5 x Ayrton 33° Optics Filter 196 X 173, 5 x Aytron 10 MT M/F 8-Core Multifunction, 1 x Ayrton Easybox

Control: 1 x Botex-SD-10 Smart Controller 96ch DMX Recorder



The structure is influenced by basket weaving and Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’

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