As part of the 2015 RIBA Windows project in XinTianDi, Shanghai, Arup Associates created an installation for Pizza Marzano. The “Free Your Style 2015 RIBA Windows Project @ Shanghai Xintiandi”, now in its third year, is a Sino-British cultural exchange project in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the British Council, Shanghai XinTianDi Style and 10 RIBA architecture firms from the UK. Once again this collaboration brings retail and design together to generate creative spaces for the public to experience art and architecture.
Catherine worked with architects and engineers of Arup Associates to create a sustainable interactive lighting device that celebrates the art of pizza making. The project coincides with the Marzano brand’s 50th anniversary celebration, hence the installation echoes Italian cultural references and its form emulates the art of pizza making, while also reflecting the healthy low-carbon lifestyle advocated by Arup Associates throughout its design philosophy.
To achieve this effect, the completed installation consists of the red, white and green colours of the Italian national flag presented through electroluminescent (EL) wire, which by way of its twisting geometry simultaneously represents the form of stretched pizza dough, and reflects sunlight by day and is illuminated by night. In order to provide this illumination, the design also pays tribute to a further Italian passion, that of sports: the use of two bicycles to power the interactive elements of the installation entices members of the public to intimately experience the illumination of the installation as reward for healthy exercise, and further promotes a low carbon lifestyle.
In keeping with Arup Associates’ signature way of working, from the very inception of the project the architects worked in close cooperation with the structural, mechanical and electrical engineers and sustainability consultants as a fully integrated multidisciplinary design team. The design direction incorporated all disciplines in exploration of the design’s feasibility, resulting in the coordinated choice of EL wire as a light, soft, low energy method of illumination in the design. The EL wire effectively upholds the design concept in being clearly visible in both day and night, along with having a translucency that allows sunlight to cast coloured shadows across the dining area below and to reflect off the polished aluminium structural frame, which itself fades into the background of the concerto of Italian colours. The EL wires are fully integrated into the structural frame which not only supports but also houses the wiring and power generation systems. Finally, the fisherman’s knot terminates the wires and hold them neatly tightened against the frame, ensuring stability across the two-month life of the project.