© Paolo Fassini
EMBT’s portfolio ranges from office towers to public spaces via industrial design. They designed the Scottish Parliament building, during the construction of which Miralles died, so Benedetta Tagliabue completed it in sole control.
Highly regarded by the profession, she won the RIBA Sterling prize in 2005, is a member of the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury, and received the 2013 RIBA Jenks Award for her major contribution to both the theory and practice of architecture internationally. She is a visiting professor at Harvard and Columbia Universities, and at Barcelona ETSAB.
So what does such an eminent architect, used to working on a large scale, do when she designs a light fitting?
Dome comes in two sizes. The one in the image above is Ø90cm, and there is another one, double the size, at Ø180cm:
The wooden structure is lit from above, from a housing that can be black (as above) or white.
This leaves the dome free to interact with the light around it, whatever its source. Instead of being a luminaire with a light inside it, Dome becomes an illuminated sculpture. Its deep ribs, and the gaps between them (that are sometimes empty, sometimes filled with a delicate translucent material), allow for the play of light and shadow as time passes, and as we move around it. The structure is unashamedly architectural, with its load-bearing ribs that not only create a cupola, but also continue on up to form a smaller inverted dome above. Part of the pleasure comes from appreciating its mathematical, geometric characteristics and the patterns that they create.
The final result was reached after making many models, and comprises 170 big and small wooden sections that are intertwined and sewn together by hand at Bover’s factory outside Barcelona.
It has a fantastic presence…
…and clearly draws on Benedetta Tagliabue’s architectural thinking. For example, the Scottish Parliament building:
And the COPAGRI pavilion for the Milan Expo:
Finally, do watch this joyous video of two amazing people at the top of their game, Benedetta Tagliabue and Joana Bover, chatting – and demonstrating the “feminine empathy” that lies behind the creation of Dome!