Highcross Beacons

Levitate, Leicester, 2016

 

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An illuminated digital sculpture that acts as a beacon, drawing people towards it and inviting them to engage with it

Winning an invited ideas competition in April 2015, Levitate was commissioned by Hammerson to ‘add vibrancy and relevance’ to St Peter’s Square – at the heart of Leicester’s Highcross Shopping Centre – by finding a way to activate the new urban square, creating a meeting place and engaging shoppers and passers-by.

Working with Gabby Shawcross of Studio of Cinematic Architecture (SOCA), a 'moths around a bulb' concept for an illuminated sculpture emerged.

A site assessment led to the realisation that a small area of the square was visible from all four approaches, and that focusing an installation on this footprint would leave room for events to take place around it in the future. With the ground plane often obscured by people, we proposed a tall sculpture that would become a beacon, drawing people towards it and inviting them to engage with it, with seats to encourage people to pause in the square.

The seven-totem design is visually and physically permeable; from most angles it is an abstract sculpture at the intersection of the four streets. But, when viewed from certain angles, the separate columns line up to create a flat plane.

The technology-packed columns have digital displays that wrap seamlessly around and are lit up with interactive animations and specially commissioned artworks. These have included the original portraits of the people of Leicester, patterns to celebrate Diwali, a campaign for World Mental Health Day, a tribute to WWI soldiers for Remembrance Day and a backdrop for the BBC’s African Player of the Year broadcast. They provide a varied, socially and culturally vibrant, non-commercial canvas for the city.

Sensors detect movement and weather conditions, which are translated into ambient animation created by The Workers, and four benches provide seating for the square, completing the vision of a place to meet, sit, watch and play.

Data

  • Begun: Feb 2016
  • Completed: Apr 2016
  • Floor area: 12m2
  • Sector: Public realm
  • Total cost: £250,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Address: St Peter's Square, 5 Shires Lane, Leicester, LE1 4AN, United Kingdom

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