Architects Create Color Changing Light Cube Using GKD Transparent Mesh

February 2, 2016

Commended by the EXPO-jury in the context of the Saar terraces as an exemplary project for the revitalization of inner-city industrial branches, the LIGHT-CUBE is one of the worldwide projects of the World’s Fair. The exhibition grounds, which once yielded coal and steel, are developing into a thriving center for high-tech, media and service companies. The 16,000 square foot area of the EXPOMEDIA LIGHT-CUBE has been tailored to the needs of the multimedia branch, with the outer cloak playing an optically spectacular, highly conspicuous role. According to the concept of Prof. Rüdiger Kramm, Axel Strigl and Benjamin Kramm, the mesh mantle is designed to be a seamless, all-round projection screen for extraordinary visualizations of complex information: in short, a “media façade.” The planners see this as the architectonic expression of a self-steering and self-generating system. As an “interface between enclosed space and the surrounding environment, it changes into a cloak which, as a climatic and illuminating membrane, has novel technical and aesthetic qualities.

In six months, GKD, in close cooperation with the architects and with the executive construction company, K.M. Hardwork GmbH, Stuttgart and with WPW Ingenieure, Saarbrücken, developed a concept for the creation of the largest single element of wire mesh. For each of the three sides of the building, GKD finished four 74.8-foot long and 17.1-foot wide sheets of the mesh type Omega 1520. The mesh was installed within just six weeks.

Omega has a particularly filigree grace, in keeping with the demand for the outer mantle to have such a fine structure that, at night, it would act like a transparent curtain to enhance illumination effects happening behind it, while at the same time being a “screen” for colors and shapes projected onto it. The construction and lighting effects are unique. Between the stainless steel mesh mantle and the building’s shell, there is a two-level system of rods made of glass tubes like a spatial grid covering all four sides of the cube, equipped with LED-rods in the RGB-spectrum. Under computer control, the rods assume various colors. In this way, both behind and on the façade, simple graphic lines and squares appear, as well as complex images, for example so-called plasma fractals – relief images similar to the morphology of landscapes. In unpredictable image sequences, these symbolize abstract information, movements and states.

In the dark, the composition as a whole develops a life of its own made of light, colors and structures. The visual spectacle continues in the daytime under natural lighting. In daylight, the façade becomes a gigantic mirror reflecting the sun, the clouds and the weather in an endless variation of impressions. At the same time, an LED-display on the external shell provides a lively and fascinating picture within a picture, offering a versatile program of entertainment and information. Only the bare outlines of tubes and structures behind the mesh can be made out.

Apart from its optical properties, the resilience of the material was also a key issue for the architects. It had to be resistant to mechanical deformation and climatic influences in order provide a protective shield for the lighting tubes and technical equipment hidden behind it. The intended aesthetic impact called for semi-transparent material that – in contrast to its filigree grace – would stand up to strong winds without starting to vibrate. This requirement is familiar to GKD from numerous façade projects all over the world.

Homepage and featured image courtesy of Wolfgang Staudt 

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