Ballistic Architecture Machine

Ballistic Architecture Machine

Beijing, CN


Droplet Chandelier

The Wintergarden installation for the cavernous lobby of a new hotel/shopping center in Shenyang, China.

The project began with a crystaline model made from noodles and sugar. Everyone loved it but it was clearly an impossible material, and method, for making a large-scale hanging sculpture. A list was compiled of characteristics to focus on—“fuzziness”, “translucency”, and “randomness”, to name a few—and with those in mind the development process began. From this beginning, digital and physical models were made, drawing inspiration from bio-luminescent underwater life to Italian bicycles in order to create the “Urchin Cloud”.

The initial studies of the space focused on sun and shadow patterns in the building throughout the year. Modeling software was used to grade areas of the space from those that received the most light to those which received the least. Cross-sections of the building were examined for shadow patterns. Physical models were used to determine the shape of individul units and combined with 3D modeling to determine possible overall shapes/sizes for the installation. Maps were made of “sun volumes”—three dimensional shapes representing varying light intensities within the installation space—and were used to determine optimal location of the urchin units.

Adhering to the belief that color is AWESOME, color combinations were modeled, tested, and stood up against what was already known about the site. There was a constant back and forth between physical models and digital imaging; knowledge, and questions, gleamed from one hand of the process were tried against the other in order to further bolster the designers’ convictions. Physical models were made, transferred to the digital realm, and rendered in an exact 3D image of the works’ eventual home.

As often happens when fabricating idiosyncratic ideas, this project will be built with individual pieces that can’t be found at your local building supply, or anywhere else for that matter. The process of manufacturing the nodes that serve as the core of our “urchins” has proven to be a bit of an uphill battle—time and again plastic manufacturers have told us that “it can’t be done”. 

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Status: Built
Location: Wujin, CN
Additional Credits: Studio 505


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