As part of a lobby renovation in Raleigh, North Carolina, Gensler commissioned SOFTlab to create an sculpture that would span from the floor to ceiling and would frame the main entrance to the elevators.
The form of ‘Grotta Aeris’ was inspired by the crystalline growth of natural elements, and to achieve that look, SOFTlab created the structure in copper-finished composite panels.
The rigid edges of the piece retain the rule-based logic of crystalline growth, while the overall form is much more organic, like the grotto-like form of an outcropping of growing copper.
Its size, form, and prominence in the space might ordinarily give it quite a heavy feel, but the work is made to feel lighter as the designers added backlighting with a subtly changing animation. The lighting is exposed through the seams of the panels breaking down the crystal-like formation and inverting its solidity through what appears to be cracks.
The polished copper along with the changing light constantly reflects and redirects the movement of people through the lobby in unexpected ways.