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Photos: Faculty and students install Luminous Kite Lanterns at farmers market

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A team of students from the School of Architecture + Design, in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, led by Assistant Professor of Architecture Aki Ishida installed an interactive installation at the Blacksburg Farmers Market in collaboration with Benjamin Knapp, Ivica Ico Bukvic, Brennon Bortz and other members of Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology at Virginia Tech. The installation was commissioned by the American Institute of Architects Blue Ridge chapter for its biannual award exhibit. Funding was provided by the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership.

Luminous Kite Lanterns consisted of 740 kites made with mulberry paper and bamboo interconnected on kite lines. Fifty-two strings of kites were suspended beneath 3,000 square feet of the farmers market timber frame pavilion to sway and rotate together in response to wind. 

At night, the kites were softly lit with LED lights to create a luminous outdoor ceiling. The color of lights shifted from warm white to orange as people entered the space under the kites and become intense red as the occupants’ motion increased. Ambient sound of wood chimes were heard as presence of people was captured by sensors, creating a multisensory space that responded to people’s presence and natural forces of the breeze. 

Mock-ups of the kites were tested at full-scale throughout the summer and early autumn for wind response and interactivity. Educational tours were given by the design team to local students at Margaret Beeks Elementary and Blacksburg New School. 

Inspired by traditional Japanese lantern festivals and paper kites, the installation educated the public about a space design that responds to natural forces and presence of people; it celebrates the ephemeral, fleeting nature of materials traditionally used in Japanese rituals and events. In integration with digital technology, Luminous Kite Lanterns brings awareness to our interconnectedness to nature and among people occupying a public space.

The team for the installation:
Design Director:
Aki Ishida, assistant professor of architecture
Core Design Team:
Carolina Cohen Freue of Argentina, a sophomore majoring in architecture
Justin Dennis of Clarksville, Va.
, a sophomore majoring in architecture and art history
Jordan Keller of Breinigsville, Pa., a sophomore majoring in architecture
Kaitlin Vavoso of Alexandria, Va., a sophomore majoring in landscape architecture
Interactive Sound and Light Design:
Benjamin Knapp, director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and a professor of computer science
Ivica Ico Bukvic, associate professor of music
Brennon Bortz of San Francisco, Calif., a doctoral student in computer science
Mickey Cowden of Elk Creek, Va., a graduate student in computer engineering
Taylor O’Connor of Purcellville, Va., a senior majoring in computer engineering

Photos by Logan Wallace and Daniel Ayad

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