Lightweave Miami, FL 2020

Lightweave is a pair of interactive archway structures that frame two new walkways on the main pedestrian thoroughfare known as the “Paseo” at the heart of Downtown Doral.  The project was commissioned as part of the planning for a mixed town center in Miami developed by Codina Partners.  

The stainless-steel structure of Lightweave is inspired by the vibrancy and rhythm of the local community while addressing the pragmatic concerns of the weather in southern Florida.  The form and structure of the archways come together with interactive light and sound to produce a pedestrian space that is constantly changing in playful and unexpected ways. The experience at night is like walking through a musical instrument. The form and color act as scaffolding for an unexpected symphony of light and sound that is activated by pedestrians as they walk down the Paseo.

The repetition of archways frames a processional corridor of nested thresholds for pedestrians. By rotating and connecting every other vertical column the archways act as a single stable structure and give the thresholds an alternating orientation. Each archway is topped with an ascending A frame that creates a subtle shift in scale and perspective from the downtown center to the larger residential buildings.  Steel tension cables are woven through the structure and are clad in powder coated aluminum tubes. While this was initially a pragmatic decision, it led to many exciting spatial, geometric, and optical conditions for us to explore.

These tubes change in color throughout the length of the structure giving the archways a vibrant spectrum. During the middle of the day the strong Florida sun casts cross hatched shadows of the structure, cables, and tubes on the path below. As the tubes and cables are woven through his structure, they create ruled surfaces that appear to curve. When approached from the side the tubes overlap and create moiré pattern as they overlap with each other and the palm trees flanking the walkway. The choice of tensioned elements to imply volume rather than surfaces was driven by the strong winds that often affect southern Florida during hurricane season.

At night Lightweave is interactive, responding to environmental sound from pedestrians, wind, and plains departing from the Miami International Airport nearby. The archways respond with programmable LEDs and a spatial speaker array integrated into the stainless-steel structure.  The LEDs respond with custom designed behavioral animations that animate through the series of thresholds and A frames while others appear to dematerialize the structure and build it back up again. An ambient audio experience is in tandem with a light “wave” animation at the base of each vertical column of the structure. When the piece is triggered the animated lighting appears to bounce between the elements of the angular structure. When the light “bounces” off the structure next to the closest speaker in the array that speaker produced a tone that then cascades with a slight delay through the other speakers in the array. The colored aluminum tubes appear monochromatic at night, but their color is highlighted as a portion of nearby lights are activated.