A “breathing” luminous curtain made of repurposed consumer beverage containers
Light is essential to the realization of architecture, yet in the process of design and construction it is commonly an afterthought. Not only is the source of light important for the quality of illumination within a space, but also the materials used to capture, filter, and redirect the light.
The PET Wall is a self-supporting, luminous curtain comprised by repurposed polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and integrated light-emitting diode (LED) nets. The lightweight structure makes use of a widely disposed post-consumer product due to its advantageous structural and light-filtering properties. Like head lamp or light fixture lenses, the particular thermoformed geometries of these transparent bottles convey and disperse illumination efficiently while obscuring glare. The result is a thickened surface comprised by modular, tactile light nodes with various possibilities for programmability and interaction. [...]
While the trajectories of minimalist light art and assemblage art have been historically distinct, these movements seek to produce similarly charged atmospheres that transcend common material associations. A marriage of these traditions employing programmable light nets and reused beverage containers seeks to capitalize on this similarity, shifting deeply-embedded cultural readings of a ubiquitous consumer product via integrated illumination that alters the material’s inherent banality.
Comprised of commercially-available fluorescent tubes set within gallery spaces, Dan Flavin’s light installations embody the direct and impersonal approach advocated by minimalist artists such as Ad Reinhardt, who declared that “Art begins with the getting rid of nature.”1 However, despite Flavin’s humble account that his work is “as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find,”2 his installations achieve sophisticated results from the complex interplay of light and color within spaces as well as the dynamic play of shadows cast by viewers of the works. Regarding his search for a plastic treatment of light, Flavin has described the experience this way: “Now the entire interior spatial container and its parts-wall, floor, and ceiling, could support this strip of light but would not restrict its act of light except to enfold it.”3 [...]
Installations composed of repurposed ubiquitous consumer objects achieve strength using weak materials.
Like the PET Wall, the PET Orb is another potential manifestation of the PET-based light curtain, in this case a segmented partial dome. Constructed over temporary formwork, the PET Orb showcases the inherent structural integrity of stacked PET bottles arrayed in a honeycomb pattern and held in place via EVA hot glue. Floor-mounted acrylic mirror panels convey the effect of a completed sphere, inside of which the inhabitant might appear to float. LED lights incorporated within the bottles cause the PET orb to glow from within, and customized controls allow the illumination to softly rise and fall in intensity, as if the orb were alive and breathing.
A Catalog of Materials that Redefine our Physical Environment
As the speed of technological progress continues to accelerate, innovation threatens to outpace architects’ and designers’ working knowledge of materials, thereby limiting their applicability. In order to stay at the cutting edge of design, a knowledge of the uses, properties, and sources of new materials is essential. A sequel to the critically acclaimed and best-selling book Transmaterial, Transmaterial 2 is a clear, concise, accessible, and carefully edited resource that provides information about the latest and most intriguing materials commercially available.
Based on a compilation of Blaine Brownell’s “product of the week” electronic journal, Transmaterial 2 includes more than two hundred materials and is indexed in multiple ways for maximum convenience. An excellent ideas generator,Transmaterial 2 is an indispensable tool for any architect or designer looking to keep up with the current trends in the field of materials. [...]