Spanish Architect and Designer Roque Pena Pidal is the 3rd prize winner of the 2013 CLU Foundation Contest for his project 10577 Rays in Helsinki. The jury selected his project because it uses light as an event and it would bring people together. His proposal to have an assembly of reflectors to make the winter solstice as bright as the summer solstice would help the population by increasing their serotonin levels. It is created for a specific location and resembles a big public event.
First, congratulations on winning the 3rd prize of the Socialight, CLU Foundation Contest.
Tell me about yourself, your career and your education.
I studied architecture at the Universidad Europea de Madrid and at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, where I had the opportunity of having Sir Peter Cook as a professor. I graduated in Madrid in July 2013 with distinction. About one year and a half ago, I began a personal project called Waspmod focused in the digital fabrication in architecture. Now I’m starting up ExArchitects, an Architecture Studio specialized in parametrical design and digital fabrication with my colleague Jose Salinas. I worked with several Architecture Studios and Artists.
Where does your interest in lighting design come from?
I agree with Philippe Rham when he says “Architecture should no longer build spaces but rather create temperatures and atmospheres.” Also, I’m fascinated with Alvar Aalto’s use and consideration of light. In my Master Project the goal was to generate public space, so I decided to work with the light knowing by my own experience the positive influence of light in space design.
Why did you choose to participate in the Socialight contest?
A friend of mine told me about this contest because it suited the subject I was interested in and in which I had been working for the last year.
Can you share with us your initial idea behind this concept of 10577 Rays in Helsinki and what is the social aspect of this project?
In Finland, people experience negative mood changes (low levels of serotonin) related to the few hours of sunlight in the winter time. This is medically recognized as a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). My proposal concentrates light so that at the winter solstice, there is the same illuminance as the summer solstice. The scheme lifts the spirits of the Finnish people, and increases their serotonin levels. It creates an uplifting, bright public space in the winter, bringing people together through the manipulation of light.
Do you think that you proposal could become a reality?
It’s an ambitious project that wouldn’t be cheap but whose benefits for the inhabitants of Helsinki would be worth building it. In my opinion it is very important to invest in public spaces in the cities.
What were your motivations for 10577 Rays in Helsinki?
The motivation was very simple, to develop a social architecture that helps people in everyday life. I would like to recommend you a very inspiring clip of the Vitorio de Sica’s film “Miracolo a Milano”, where you can see something very similar to my proposal’s goal.
Please tell us more about the operational aspect of your installation. How does it work?
The scheme reflects and densifies light to a focal space. 6838 parabolic shaped forms are strategically located over the adjacent surroundings with an area twenty times as big as the focal space. The 10577 reflectors of the infrastructure, built in fiberglass with a mirror finish, rotate in one axis to direct the light under its 11600 m2 canopy.
Thanks to the parametric design and the computer control the movement of the reflectors can be automated and follow the sunlight.
How do you see lighting design evolving on a long-term basis?
I would like it to evolve in an ecological –in the sense of Félix Guattari’s “Three Ecologies”- and responsible way. Good examples are the ideas proposed in this contest and the ones that are generated from it.
How do you see your professional career evolving?
I wish to continue developing my ideas in order to work on projects that help people to improve their lives through the study and design of the space and the environment. I enjoy working in many different areas, from architecture to art, so there is a lot to do!