The SOL Dome
by Loop.pH

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London studio Loop.pH mimicked the molecular structures of carbon atoms to generate the form of this illuminated wiry dome (+ movie).

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

Named the SOL Dome, the structure was built using Archilace, a lightweight composite fibre developed by Loop.pH, and made up of carbon and fibreglass.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

The stiff woven fibres, which can be bent into almost any surface, have been shaped into circles to create a rigid structure based on the chemical and molecular bonds between carbon atoms.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

"It is an entirely new way of constructing architectural spaces based on textile principles," creative director Rachel Wingfield told Dezeen.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

The studio created the installation as part of the Fall In... Art and Sol Festival in Michigan, USA, an annual art and science exhibition that this year is focussing on solar-powered art.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

Solar cells at the base of the dome store energy during the day and are then used to power an animated lighting sequence that is projected over the surface of the structure after dark.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

"The rotational breathing rhythm of the light is driven by an onsite CO2 sensor and is part of our studio's ongoing research into creating environments that allow people to experience cycles of environmental data in public space," said Wingfield.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

Wingfield also compares the structure to the experimental architecture of Buckminster Fuller.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

"It's a further development on Buckminster Fuller's work on geodesic domes where the solid rods are replaced by a single tubular membrane," she added.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

Other projects by Loop.pH that use Archilace include an illuminated installation created for a festival in Germany and an umbrella-like canopy installed at the entrance to London's Kensington PalaceSee more Loop.pH projects »

Photography is by Mathias Gmachl.

Here's a project description:


The SOL Dome

The SOL Dome is a lightweight dome structure, 8 metres in diameter, 4 metre high and weighing only 40 kg. Its fabricated onsite over 3 days from thousands of individually woven circles of composite fibre. The structure is animated and part of a responsive lighting system, lit by a circular matrix of solar powered LED floodlights.

The rotational breathing rhythm of the light is driven by an onsite CO2 sensor and is part of our studio's ongoing research into creating environments that allow people to experience cycles of environmental data in public space. The underlying geometry and construction technique of the dome is based on chemical, molecular bonds between carbon atoms. When each fibre is bent into a circle it is like charging a battery, creating a taut energetic structure.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

Our work at Loop.pH speculates on what the future of renewable energy could be and how it may alter both the urban and rural landscapes. We create environments that question what new behaviours, work forces and activity might emerge in an abundant renewable energy future.

Ultimately, we have a vision for an entirely new type of architecture that responds and adapts to its environment, similarly to a plant and its surrounding ecosystem. We dream of a living architecture that photosynthesises, moves and orientates in accordance to the sun. It is an architecture whereby the inhabitants can actively participate in its shape, form and function.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

The underlying geometry and construction technique is based on chemical, molecular bonds between carbon atoms. The taut structure of the SOL Dome embodies a kinetic energy whereby each fibre bent into a circle is like charging a battery. Large scale solar energy supply will only be possible if we can find an inexpensive storage mechanism. Transferring solar energy into chemical energy (chemical bonds) is one of the most promising approaches. The dome structure is an example of this type of stored energy.

Archilace is a pioneering and unique method to craft space and has been developed by Loop.pH over the past 10 years. It can simply be described as lace-making on an architectural scale and will be the principle technique behind the SOL Dome.

The SOL Dome by Loop.pH

Archilace encourages designers, architects and citizens to intervene and re-construct the built environment, promoting the idea that architecture is a process and in a state of constant transformation. Archilace combines a cutting edge parametric design process with a hands-on crafting technique. Weaving with composite fibres allows for virtually any imaginable surface to be created from a small number of parts. Where many individual fibres are weak when singular, great strength is created in unison as they interlink and cross one another. Recently discovered structures that were previously unbuildable can be fabricated by hand using a textile, curvilinear approach - breaking the rectilinear geometry that dominates our built environment.

Fall In...Art and Sol is a celebration of art, culture and science throughout Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region featuring the world's first major solar art exhibition with International artists in October 2013.

Project: The SOL Dome by Loop.pH
Location: FirstMerit Bank Event Park, Saginaw, Great Lakes Bay Region, Michigan, USA
Date: 28 September - 31 October 2013
Client: Fall In… Art and Sol Festival