Dezeen Magazine

Lateral Office lights up New York City Garment District with "immersive urban instrument"

Canadian studio Lateral Office has installed 12 oversized seesaws that light up and make sounds on the streets of New York City's Garment District.

Impulse by Lateral Office

Impulse occupies the pedestrian plazas on Broadway Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets. While on display, the block is closed to vehicle traffic.

Visitors are encouraged to ride the playground-style pieces, which range in length from 16 to 24 feet (4.8 to 7.3 metres). The motion triggers lights to intensify and emit musical sounds.

Impulse by Lateral Office

"The immersive urban instrument creates an exciting, playful experience, in which visitors become the musicians and artists through a series of illuminated seesaws that respond and transform when put into motion," said the Garment District Alliance, a non-profit that organised the project.

Each seesaw features a clear polycarbonate covering and light diffuser that reveals the LED bulbs inserted inside. To activate the installation a person mounts each end and grabs hold of the metal handle.

Several of the seesaws have two handlebars on each end allowing several people to use the ride simultaneously. When one side touches the ground, the lights are switched on and shine through the transparent covering.

When not in use, they stabilise, balance horizontally and emit a dim glow.

Impulse by Lateral Office

Speakers wired inside each individual seesaw play the variety of musical sounds as the piece moves up and down. The noises are randomised and create a composition that is always different.

"The ever-changing composition creates a dynamic light and sound wave, animating and brightening the Garment District's Broadway pedestrian plazas," the Garment District Alliance added.

Impulse by Lateral Office

Lateral Office collaborated with design agency CS Design and structural engineers EGP Group to complete Impulse.

The musical score was created with sound designer Mitchell Akiyama and electronic design studio Robocut, while fabrication was completed by Generique Design. The work was first presented in 2015 at Luminothérapie, a festival in Montreal.

Impulse is installed in New York City's Garment District until 31 January 2020.

The Garment District Alliance collaborated with NYC DOT's Art Program and the Public Space Unit's Seasonal Streets programme to create the installation as part of Garment District Art on the Plazas.

Impulse by Lateral Office

Other recent installations in New York City include Ziggy, a series of rebar frames covered in bright cords by Hou de Sousa and an illuminated swimming pool that floats in the East River to test and report on water quality.

Photography is by Alexandre Ayer.