Immersive public art redefining our relationship to public spaces
by Vatsala SethiDec 30, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Feb 22, 2022
During the recently concluded LEAP 2022 conference held from 1-3 February in Saudi Arabia, London-based practice Stufish Entertainment Architects delivered a breathtakingly hypnotic experience to welcome visitors to the event, in the form of the world’s largest kaleidoscope. The immersive installation titled ‘LEAPscape’ was placed at the entrance to the Riyadh Expo Center in the national capital and displayed scenes of Saudi Arabia’s natural environment overlaid with digitally morphing content. The presentation was based on triangular and star-shaped geometries that highlighted the nation’s advocacy of technology and innovation.
An annual global technology event held in Saudi Arabia, LEAP has been described by its organisers as a platform for corporations, startups, and venture capitalists among others, to congregate and potentially accelerate the progress of emerging technological innovations. To create a sight worthy of this groundbreaking consortium of disruptive professionals, Stufish’s initial ideative spark in conceptualising and assembling the mirrored installation stemmed from an ambition to construct a space that would capture an ‘x’-fold return on investment in some capacity. Inspired by the ability of mirrors to double the visual perception of spaces, the design team was eventually able to craft an experience that enlarged the environment by nearly 12-fold.
Designed with seamless and warp-less mirrors, the installation features a pair of triangular entry and exit points at either end, that has been intricately developed to avoid any interference with the thematic explosion of colour, texture, and geometry of the interior design. According to the architects, LEAPscape took approximately three weeks to fully realise. It required LED tiles on its walls and floors, and mirror foil on the ceiling, to visually expand the spatiality. Through this configuration, content displayed on the LED tiles at the bottom was reflected on the mirror foil above, creating a recurring imagery that generate a kaleidoscopic effect. The mirror foil was sourced from the ‘Giant Mirror’ collection of Showtex - a worldwide leader in developing flame retardant fabrics, tracks, and motion control systems that bring such spatial visions to life.
“Our kaleidoscope is meant to represent how a simple and considered design, when supported with a material that can scale as intended, can return an experience that is far larger than what was built and what is anticipated. We feel this is the epitome of efficiency and sustainability in architecture," states Maciej Woroniecki, a partner at STUFISH Entertainment Architects, in the project's press release.
In portraying the diversity of Saudi Arabia, the 40 metre long, three metre wide, and six metre high installation guided visitors on a journey through the natural beauty apparent in the nation’s landscape - from the bottom of the sea to the starry skies above the shifting sands of the Arabian Peninsula. Aside from the structure itself, Stufish was also responsible for creating the content displayed on the kaleidoscope over the duration of the conference.
Self-portrayed as ‘entertainment architects,’ Stufish has conceived and implemented set designs for numerous major artists and theatres across the world for almost three decades. A leading name in the design of live musical experiences, exhibitions, and other creative displays, Stufish was also recently involved in the construction of a temporary mass timber arena for the upcoming ABBA Voyage reunion concert tour in the UK.
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