July 16 2020
Behind the Project: Bloom
Recently, we sat down with Sanja Buncic, an Associate based in our London, UK office to chat about her work.
1. Sanja, thanks for sitting down with us today. What’s an interesting piece you’ve worked on lately?
One interesting piece I’ve worked on lately, and it’s certainly relevant in today’s COVID reality, is Bloom. Bloom is a kinetic/digital art installation made for the new Medicine Gallery at the Science Museum in London, UK.
Bloom is meant to represent the way a virus moves and is transmitted through air. It is a series of lights and propellers that are controlled by a software and get turned on-off in a series of different patterns. As the propellers move, the light changes colour – it can be white, blue, yellow or red – to indicate various stages of infection or health.
The video below shows how Bloom operates.
2. What’s unique about this project? Were there any unique challenges you had to face, or problems you had to solve?
We were responsible for designing the tubes that host the lights and propellers, as well as how the tubes connect, the stainless-steel wires that affix the structure to the ceiling and hidden steel brackets and supports allowing the wires to anchor into the existing building.
When it came to connecting the tubes to the wires and the wires to the ceiling, we had to consider the vibration. The artists of the piece, Sophie and Rolf from Studio Roso, created a mini model for us to test and help assess the level of vibration. Once we tested, we realized the impact would be fairly minimal so we had more flexibility with the size and type of tubes we could use.
We ended up choosing thicker tubes so they could house the cables that run electricity through the installation, since electricity is needed to power the propellers and light the lights.
Another interesting thing about the tubes is that they needed a sphere in the nodes where we have more than two tubes connecting to allow for the cables and required electrical parts to branch out. This was a unique and complex challenge that was handled using Rhino.
We also had to be careful when considering the placement of the cable wires. The weight distribution of the structure is uneven as some parts are naturally heavier, so hanging the cables was important to ensure the structure didn’t tip or lean in any one direction. To design the cables we played with different arrangements in the analysis software.
It was very important for all that the proposed eye-bolt fixings into existing structure do not distract from the piece and so in collaboration with Other Fabrications, the fabricator, we developed a crimped cable connection around an aluminium sleeve threaded through the eyebolt before crimping. This unusual assembly needed to be tested which proved more difficult than we originally thought.
3. Why did you enjoy this project so much?
I have to say, I always enjoy working on art installations and special projects. When you get to work on something that has the sole purpose of being beautiful, it’s something really special.
Also, working on art projects is different from much of my other work. There’s a special sense of freedom that you don’t find elsewhere. With buildings, you must design to code and be rigid – with art, the requirement is aesthetic beauty and there is more freedom in the way you design and approach the structure.
It’s really fun!
4. Any final thoughts?
I really enjoy collaborating on projects like these. This time, we worked with Studio Roso, the artists, Other Fabrications, the fabricator, and WilkinsonEyre, the architects. It was great bringing this vision to life and working with WilkinsonEyre to ensure our design didn’t have an impact on theirs.
Working on this sculpture was an amazing journey!
This is one of many unique projects Sanja has worked on. If you’d like to discuss this or any other project with Sanja, you can reach out to her here.