Solar Powered Tree Provides Light to Poor Neighborhoods

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Designed as part of Moma’s exhibit on experiments in responsive textile architecture, SonUmbra is a bright and energetic tree built to function completely on solar power. By day, the structure serves just like any other natural tree, standing tall and providing shelter from the sun. By night, the light emitting fabric that forms the branches glows with patterns of light. The creator, London-based design firm Loop.pH, states that they strive to “create a new design practice reaching beyond specialist boundaries, mediating between digital & biological media and facilitating participatory design and urban crafts.”

The ultimate goal is for the piece to stand as a light source in towns and villages that cannot afford electricity. However, in the development stages, the artists realized a creative opportunity to construct an interactive piece in which light and motion coexist. The model that stands in Mowbray Park, Sunderland, is designed to react to the activity of people in the surrounding area. As visitors move around the structure, the light emitting patterns react to the sounds and movement and create an awe-inspiring geometric light show. The designers say, “Wandering unaware or actively gravitating towards Sonumbra, each person plays a part and becomes a note in a unique composition of light, sound and space.”

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