Though we often think of the power of architecture as deriving from a specific material structure — in other words, from a specific arrangement of beams and tiles and walls — it is the “negative” aspects of architecture which often provide at least as much of its overall effect. Think of the palpable sense of space that is felt by a human standing on the floor of an immense cathedral, or the uplifting effect on the spirit that can be generated by simple shafts of light.
The International VELUX Award was initiated in 2004 to encourage students of architecture “to explore the theme of sunlight and daylight in its widest sense to create a deeper understanding of this specific and ever relevant source of light and energy,” and the 2010 prize was awarded this past fall to a team from Seoul’s Hanyang University: Park Young-Gook, Kim Dae Hyun, Choi Jin Kyu, and Kim Won Ill. Their entry, “Constellation of light fields”, is a proposal to replace a fixed translucent roof over a city park with a “field” made up of strips of fabric which can be twisted to create patterns of light on the ground below — patterns which can illuminate a path, spotlight a performance, or provide uniform and relaxing shade. Comments the team:
The way we handle light today is restricted by physical elements (walls, roofs, etc.). We tried to liberate architecture from these material restrictions. Light is the immaterial architectural element that humans react directly to through the senses. By eliminating the material elements, light can create diversity within a given space.