Tripping the (Solar) Light Fantastic

Solar Today


In 2003, Mathias Gmachl and Rachel Wingfield founded Loop.pH, a London-based studio and spatial laboratory that experiments across the fields of design, architecture, and the sciences. Sonumbra and the permanent Kensington Archilace light commission at Kensington Palace are examples of that experimental body of work.

Sonumbra demonstrates how fiber-based technologies—from solar photovoltaics to low-power lighting—can be crafted to provide light and shade for a community of people.

Solar Light Tree
The Sonumbra solar tree can be “planted” in remote areas, where it offers a shady refuge by day and serves as a gathering place at night.

Strands of light are laced into huge parasols that offer shelter from the sun by day and light for a local community at night using energy collected from solar cells embedded in its canopy.

It was developed as part of the World Bank project Lighting Africa to develop low-cost, low-maintenance lighting for regions without access to the electricity grid.

Kensington Archilace is a permanent part of the larger Kensington Palace renovation project. It creates a responsive light environment within the palace, hand woven from electroluminous fibres.

Loop.pH has been working with electroluminescent technology for more than 10 years and is internationally recognized for pioneering use of this low-energy light source. The studio has developed a unique lace technique to create architectural scale animated textiles controlled by custom-made hardware and software solutions.

Kensington Archilace was hand woven by a skilled team of London lacemakers using more than four kilometers of electroluminescent wire and 12,000 donated Swarovski Crystals.
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