Conceived of by Jin Choi and Thomas Shine of Choi+Shine Architects, Urchins is an art installation created for this year’s annual iLight Marina Bay, Singapore, a festival whose theme this year is that of Biomimicry and Sustainability.
Choi+Shine Architects Giant Lace Urchins
2017 Marina Bay, Singapore
The large crocheted sculptures, inspired by sea urchin shells, mimic orderly, repetitive patterns and soft forms. This achieves a visual harmony from the contrast between nature and the man-made environment, and between the firmly grounded masculine skyscrapers and the hovering feminine object.
The ‘Urchins’ are enclosed yet lightweight, delicate and open. Their textured and permeable surface interacts with light and space, creating an airiness, while the pattern’s mathematical repetition brings visual rhythm and harmony.
The sea urchin’s natural form reveals one of the most spectacular patterns found in nature.
Aiming to create a sense of place with an intricate, calm and simple object, the mysteriously glowing lace Urchins, hovering above the water, contrasting against the skyscrapers, create a sense of place that is unique to Singapore.
The Urchins interact with natural light during the day, and glow when illuminated at night.
At night, the mysteriously hovering and glowing large Urchins create a sense of magic. When viewers enter into the Urchins, they will be surrounded by a single layer of glowing, lacy surface, where they can enjoy the detail and texture of the Urchins while simultaneously viewing the city, water and sky through these visual filters.
When other viewers see the occupants in the Urchins, the occupants glow within the lacy room, creating an illusion of ethereal levitation, making the occupants become a part of the artwork.
During the full day sun, the lightweight and yet huge lace urchins cast intricate, patterned shadows creating a pleasant visual experience while providing a small shelter from the hot sun.
The lace symbolically weaves different people and cultures, while physically, the openings in the surface create patterns of light against the sky, water and city, a juxtaposition of a permeable surface on different visual layers.
Lace is used as an embellishment for a special celebration. The softly glowing, hovering lace Urchins create visual poetry celebrating the cultural diversity of Singapore.
The Urchin Structural System:
The Urchin is a hand crochet fabric shell held in tension over an aluminum frame that is suspended from Dyneema cables. The cables fasten to steel trusses holding the Urchins in place. Because the structure is light weight, the suspending cables are thin, and barely visible during the day.
The crochet fabric shell is constructed of 3mm white double braided polyester chord, illuminated by multiple white spot lights, creating the illusion of an evenly glowing structure. Each Urchins skin uses about 17.000 meters of polyester cord, with each urchin weighing about 100kg.
The Urchins were designed for simple installation, and are composed of 20 segmented panels, which are joined to a series of metal ribs at ground level at the site, and later fastened to a top and bottom ring once suspended. Once assembled, the Urchins are hoisted to the final display height and secured in place.
A time-lapse view of iLight Marina Bay 2017:
Steel Fabrication: Modern Metal Solutions
Assembly Crew in Boston:
Thomas Shine, Susie Kim, Myungsu Ko, Yeseul Choi, Isabelle Lippincott, Hyokyung Lee
Installation Crew in Singapore:
Thomas Shine, Jin Choi, Young-eun Choi, Jaekyu Lee, SoYeung Ko, XiaoMin, Hyosoo Lee
Structural Consultant: Árni Björn Jónasson, ARA Engineering
Installation Support: iLight Marina Bay
Deidra DePagter Ball
Ashlee Deetz Schleicher
Organized by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, iLight Marina Bay is Asia’s leading sustainable light art festival.
A special shout out to my brother-in law and fine artist David Tomb for bringing this interesting project to my attention.