by Jerry Elengical, Samta NadeemSep 23, 2021
As part of the Special Projects lineup at this year’s London Design Festival, Copenhagen-based architecture firm Henning Larsen has designed The Cube - a mesmerising timber installation, developed in collaboration with Danish manufacturing company VELUX. Located at the Observation Point, a famed tourist attraction on London’s South Bank, the structure is among the most prominent highlights of the London Design Festival 2021 programme of events, which includes 10 design districts - such as the Shoreditch Design Triangle - alongside attractions like the London Design Festival V&A Museum event hub. The structure offers a quaint little island of calm for visitors scouring the streets of the bustling metropolis to catch all the festival’s attractions. Within its confines, abundant fresh air, an entrancing play of light and reflections, scored by music featuring the ambient sounds of nature, concoct an ideal atmosphere to unplug, unwind, and destress.
The Cube will be on display throughout the London Design Festival 2021 - with dates running from 18-26 of September - surrounded by vistas of the River Thames and the London skyline. According to Henning Larsen and VELUX, the immersive installation was designed to address concerns regarding the importance of daylight and fresh air in our daily lives, recreating a sense of home amid a bustling urban landscape. Daylight is an especially pertinent element for the firm to focus on, since its founder - the late Danish architect Henning Larsen, was himself known as the ‘Master of Light.’ In an official release, Eva Ravnborg, Design Director at Henning Larsen, elaborates on the practice’s reverence for this invaluable element of nature, stating, “In Scandinavia, where we’re based, daylight is a resource that we work with very consciously. It is sometimes in abundance, sometimes scarce, but most of all it’s ever-changing!” She continues, “Hence, at Henning Larsen, we share a mutual interest and history with VELUX in that we work with daylight.”
First presenting itself as a jagged form in ribbed timber, the temporary urban sculpture gradually reveals a mosaic of skylights adorning its sloping diamond-shaped roof. The Cube’s wooden envelope subtly parts at one of its lower vertices to form an angular entryway that divulges the contents of its kaleidoscopic interior. Mirrored walls angle away from one another to frame the arrangement of nine VELUX roof windows which allow light and air to flood into the space. Here, visitors can even control the skylights by means of the VELUX ACTIVE app, or simply sit back and revel in the soothing patterns of light generated by the array of openings and mirrors. Ravnborg notes that “getting an opportunity to collaborate on The Cube by VELUX has been a perfect opportunity to be playful with daylight and create a special experience for visitors.”
The subdued interior design is enlivened by an original ambient soundtrack inspired by the sounds of the ocean, forest, and wind, composed by Denmark-based musician and producer Kasper Bjørke. Bang & Olufsen - the installation's audio partner, delivered technical assistance in developing the sound experience within the structure, while AKQA provided art direction to accompany the music. Bjørke recounts the inspiration behind his composition in a press statement, saying, “from producing and DJing with ambient music, I discovered it can create an immensely ethereal atmosphere that allows listeners to transcend and connect with a different state of mind - even in a public space surrounded by others.” He adds, “I hope people visiting the installation will feel the same sense of calm and tranquillity when listening to the music that I felt producing it.”
Realised in collaboration with London-based studio Formroom, the installation is designed to be dismantlable and mobile, allowing it to be transported to its next location following the festival’s conclusion. A virtual experience of the Cube, designed by AKQA is also available online at the installation's website for those unable to attend the event, allowing a glimpse of the hypnotic interior that manifests a moment of ‘true zen.’
The Cube by VELUX® can be found at Observation Point, 56 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PP. Opening hours during the festival are: Monday – Friday 11am-7pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am – 7pm
Click here to read all about STIR at LDF, a STIR series on what to look out for at the London Design Festival 2021.