The City of Lille (FR) commissioned the Rotterdam studio of media artist, architect and 2009 Dutch Design Price winner Daan Roosegaarde to build Lotus Dome (2011-2012), an upcoming living aluminum foil structure that ‘blooms’ in response to touch and warmth. A “futuristic view on the Renaissance”, Lotus Dome merges elements of architecture and nature into an interactive experience. Or, as the artist often refers to his work, “techno-poetry” – boom!
The dome is based on Lotus (2010-2011), Roosegaarde’s living wall installation that premiered at SIGGRAPH 2010. Much like the future dome the curved wall (4 x 2 meters) was composed of hundreds of sheets of smart aluminum foil, lamps and sensors. Walk by the wall and the sheets will unfold. The trick: movement triggers sensors, sensors trigger lamps. The heat emitted will then cause the foils to open, lotus like, revealing a soothing red light. No movement, no heat – the “lotuses” will close again, slowly sealing the “transparent voids between between private and public,” as Roosegaarde writes on his website.
The site goes on to say that the artist explores “the dawn of a new nature that is evolving from technological innovations”. And while organic, small scale behaviours within large orderly grids like Lotus indeed invoke natural patterns, it is their responsiveness that speaks to our imagination. The gentle sensibility in which the aluminum buds open upon human presence to morph into glowing flowers suggests an intimate harmony between man and machine that is almost utopian.
Looking at Roosegaarde’s numerous projects participation and interaction emerge as a theme: Dune, a responsive stretch of LED prairie that lights up when you enter, has been travelling the world since 2006. Sustainable Dancefloor, installed at Rotterdam’s Club Watt in 2008, generates energy from the movement of the dancers. Intimacy, Roosegaarde’s recent forray into wearable electronics (a collaboration with haute-tech designer Anouk Wipprecht), are high-tech garments made out of opaque smart e-foils that become increasingly transparent on close encounters with other people.
The Lotus wall is scheduled to be on display again in April 2012 in St. Petersburg. A few months later, in October, its domed spin-off is set to premiere. Part of the FANTASTIC exhibition curated by Caroline David, Lotus Dome will be installed in the Sainte Marie Madeleine Church in Lille (FR). Until then the video of a scale model, recorded at the City Scapes Gallery in Amsterdam (see image/video at the top), will keep us warm.