The Spanish architectural surfaces company commissioned architect Jonathan Ashmore, founder of the award-winning practice Anarchitect, to design a research-based installation, built using cutting-edge brand Cosentino’s carbon neutral collection Silestone Sunlit Days and focuses on natural light, materiality and sustainability.
The installation titled Context Reflections highlights the innovative slow-tech approach to the built environment through materials and form. The public installation is one of the highlights of Dubai Design District (d3) as part of Dubai Design Week that runs through 13 November, 2021.
Mr Ashmore, who champions passive design through the use of sustainable materials and contextual design, utilised for this project, Sunlit Days, the first-ever carbon neutral surfaces collection from Silestone by Cosentino. The permeable installation invites visitors to enter a darkened chamber and slowly discover the intriguing play of penetrated light created via a naturally occurring optical phenomenon. The self-operating, analogue installation draws inspiration from the principles of ‘Camera Obscura’ of why we see what we see. The moving images conjured on the inside wall – inverted ‘live’ projections of the surroundings outside the construction – encourages visitors to slow down, observe with attention and reflect on the constantly changing environment, within a small footprint.
In a panel discussion during the launch event at Cosentino City Dubai prior to the commencement of Dubai Design Week, Anarchitect Design Team and Cosentino’s Middle East Marketing Manager, Miriam Llano, revealed several interesting facets of the installation.
Tom Herd, senior architect, Anarchitect, discussed in greater detail about how imagination is triggered by the low light conditions of the installation. “In our urban environment we are over exposed to light. Yet from an evolutionary point of view, the human eye is tuned for twilight rather than bright light. According to Finnish Architect Juhani Pallasmaa, imagination and daydreaming are stimulated by dim light and shadow. This installation is essentially a dark chamber lit only by natural light passing through a “pin hole”. Once the eyes adjust to the low light conditions within, ambiguous upside-down images of the external world slowly reveal themselves to the visitor. It often comes as a surprise,” shared Mr Herd.
A technically challenging construction built with precise geometry, the installations rests on the principles of simplicity and practical sustainability – recurring features in Anarchitect’s projects around the world. ‘‘It was important to us that the installation was designed mindfully with minimal material wastage and is a demountable, reusable structure to give it the possibility of a second and even third life,” explains Matt Harding, another member of the Anarchitect design team behind the project.
Commenting on how carbon neutral has become an oft bandied about greenwashed phrase, Ms Llano of Cosentino Middle East explained how Silestone Sunlit Days, the material used to create the installation, pushes several boundaries in its entire life cycle to achieve true carbon neutrality.
“Silestone Sunlit Days is a pathbreaking carbon neutral series not only because it is produced using 99% reused water, 100% renewable electric energy and a minimum of 20% recycled raw materials in its composition but also because of our commitment to offset the CO2 emissions of the entire life cycle of the Sunlit Days series. ‘Context Reflections’ by Anarchitect for Cosentino is a tool to educate the consumer on what is possible. It is a meeting ground of materiality, environmental sensitivity and pure design.”Miriam Llano, marketing manager, Cosentino Middle East
An antidote to the overbearing amount of information and technology, ‘Context Reflections’ creates an opportunity for introspective contemplation, asking observers to further question the importance of natural light, the environment, social behaviour and the responsibility to preserve things that are important. “We hope this experimental installation will make people pause and think, ask questions, rather than just take a photo and walk away,” reflects Mr Ashmore.
Photo credit: Oculis Project
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