DP Architects designed Rhizome House (Amsterdam)
As the only selected Asian and Singaporean finalist entry, DP Architects “Rhizome House” design was handpicked to be one of 14 lighting installations to be built for the Illuminade route of the prestigious Amsterdam Light Festival.
The light structure was on display to an estimated 1 million visitors from December 15 2016 – 8 January 2017 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
“Rhizome House” was chosen from 500 submissions worldwide in two categories: the water-based Water Colors route, and land-based Illuminade route of the festival. Sited at the Hermitage Dock, one of the premier locations along the walkable Illuminade route, the “Rhizome House” light installation is highly visible due to its close proximity to the canal, making it visible from the Water Colors boat tours as well.
The innovative design – geometrically derived from nature’s root-like rhizome structures – was a response to this year’s theme of “biomimicry” for Illuminade. Starting from the process of bio-construction and why animals build, the man-made design is biomimetic in principle, inspired by the interconnected systems found in natural organisms.
The light installation contains constantly changing RGB light diodes and weather-resistant, translucent high-density polyethylene material that is parametrically shaped as root structures growing, branching out, and connecting. Visitors are encouraged to explore their way through the roots, the lights changing colours when movement is detected.
This installation is housed within a steel frame that pays homage to the construction of Dutch canal houses. This was done so that the design serves as a synthesis of the type of structures animals build – homes, traps, and displays, thus forming a thought-provoking, fun, and interactive connection between all three.
The rhizomes, or root networks, encourage the curious user to enter the trap created by perceived boundaries. Light reacts as users engage with the installation, creating a surprising contrast that further encourages interaction. The experience is intended to be a series of stimulating contradictions – familiar and foreign, amusing, and thought-provoking.
With its display of linkages and connections, "Rhizome House" is the embodiment of a pleasant crossroads between art, science, humanity, and nature.
DP Architects wanted to create a familiar, contextual element by using a steel frame derived from the profile of Dutch canal houses. Within that frame, an algorithmically-derived rhizome network was “trapped”, as a self-supporting structure aided by steel supports.
The steel frame was installed first, in order to ensure the rhizomes can support themselves while acting as a ballast and wind brace. The rhizomes were then assembled in modules, or sections, according to the parametric labelling of the individual pieces. The geometry was then “stripped” and unrolled to create flat 2D AutoCAD data to send to a laser-cutter or CNC machine.
Construction of the rhizome house is an exercise in digital fabrication. Both the geometry and assembly sequences were scripted utilising Grasshopper for Rhinoceros, allowing multiple iterations and rapid prototyping to optimize parameters such as structural stress, perforation, and seam geometry. A self-supporting structure in itself, the rhizomes are then further anchored to the dock using the frame of the canal houses, to brace and ballast the installation from traditionally strong winter Dutch winds.
Within the frame of each house, the rhizomes are ordered and subdivided by a series of control points, then unrolled to generate flat-2D AutoCAD data. Finally, each element is perforated, labelled, and nested into sheets for CNC cutting. The individual strips are then riveted together creating a stiff, self-supporting network within which the LED linear lights can be suspended. Each individual house is then packed into a shipping container and re-assembled on site.
Firm: DP Architects
Design Style: Contemporary
Information sourced from DP Architects