Media architecture contributes beautifully to a sublime public space in RAMUS’ installation The Pipes.
RAMUS presents The Pipes. This striking work of media architecture symbolises both a clearing and a threshold, gently welcoming people into Prahran Square, a beautifully designed urban space in the heart of Melbourne. Created as a public space deliberately absent of retail or even advertising, The Pipes is an aural and visual experience that settles the visitor: an oasis in the midst of a busy Melbourne suburb. Technology is so often only incorporated into commercial projects for the purpose of persuasion. The Pipes is different – there is zero imposition despite the use of unique and sophisticated technologies such as LED screens, cameras and audio projection. This meaningful work of media architecture was inspired by the people, narrative and environment unique to Prahran Square.
The Pipes consists of twenty-eight 11m-tall, digitally interconnected poles, dispersed throughout the four corners of the leafy green Prahran Square. Each pole is covered in thin panels of high-resolution LEDs, which are mapped to display a unified content program across all of The Pipes in tandem. The poles were designed by RAMUS, and constructed by Hess in Germany. The challenge of integrating video, audio, cameras and lighting into these slender forms and connecting them all into an interactive immersive experience was a creative and technical joy to achieve. Visually The Pipes were based on the concept of “desire lines” – well-trodden paths that are naturally formed over time by the feet of walkers. These paths are reflected vertically and represent the connection of sky to the ground. Bruce Ramus, Light Artist, determined the poles should be coloured Klein Blue, a deep hue first mixed by French artist Yves Klein. During the day this creates a strong colour contrast to the lush neutral, natural tones used in the landscaping of the park. The Pipes display an unfolding visual experience. Each panel of content runs on a 24-hour content rhythm curated by RAMUS specifically for Prahran Square. The visuals were recorded by RAMUS from the surrounding urban area and mixed with abstract expressions of light. Calming scenes of the ocean, wetlands, forest and the desert slowly shift and respond to data inputs such as the time of day, season, weather and movement of people around the pole bases. The Pipes also immerse visitors in soundscapes unique to Prahran Square including local birds, street sounds, textile production and water tracks sampled from the local area by RAMUS audio engineers. The content that is displayed as part of media architecture works can make or break the design. For The Pipes, all footage was carefully created or curated by the RAMUS content production team, to ensure the work stays true to its purpose of providing repose, a place of respite in the busy city. The resulting space creates a gentle, restful experience, inviting people to speak and connect with each other, rather than becoming distracted by more commercial pursuits.
Building or project owner : City of Stonnington
Architecture : Lyons Architecture
Project artist/ concept/ design/ planning : RAMUS
Facade construction : Kane
Light design : RAMUS, Material Thinking
Technical layout light : RAMUS
Display content/ visuals/ showreel : RAMUS, Dex Audio, Material Thinking, Christopher Williams
Lighting control software : RAMUS
Project co-ordination : RAMUS
Membrane skin : HESS
Interaction design/ programming : RAMUS
Facade type and geometry (structure) : 28 x 11m galvanised steel poles, 168 x LED panels at 6mm pitch, each panel is 800 x 200mm, 56 x 6” Cone audio speakers.
Kind of light creation : Public Light Artwork
Urban situation : The Pipes is the centrepiece of the extensive urban renewal project led by Lyons Architecture. Prahran Square was transformed from an old carpark into 9,000m2 of urban parkland. In contrast to almost all other public squares, this space is dedicated to the people who move through it.
Description of showreel : Introducing The Pipes, a digital forest of immersive visuals and soundscapes unique to the environment of Prahran Square, Melbourne.
Community or communities involved : Our work combines familiar sounds and visuals taken from the diverse cultural and environmental background that embody Prahran Square.
Tools used : 28 x 11m galvanised steel poles were designed specifically for The Pipes. 168 LED panels at 6mm pitch we used, each panel is 800 x 200mm, 56, 6” Cone audio speakers were also embedded seamlessly into the space.