I can barely imagine how incredible it must be in person: You walk into an old, dark, deserted church to encounter a faintly glowing orb. You run your hands over it–maybe you just exhale while inspecting its surface–and the dome wilts away, revealing an almost divine light within.
This is Lotus Dome, an installation by Studio Roosegaarde, on display now at the vacant Sainte Marie Madeleine “Techno-Church” in Lille, France. It’s a collection of hundreds of flowers, obscuring a single source of light. And as visitors walk around, inspecting the sculpture, it will slowly react in their wake.
“The material we stole from NASA,” a spokesperson explains, referring to the impossibly delicate mylar sheets that open and close in reaction to light and heat. They’re technologically advanced components, but they’re part of a large, hand-assembled structure built in painstaking parallel to Renaissance craftsmanship. Lotus Dome is meant to be every bit as breathtaking as a meticulously honed marble sculpture, just materially updated by a few hundred years.
Daan Roosegaarde himself calls this effect “techno-poetry,” referring to the ability of technology to inspire a space. It’s definitely a trend on the rise. Interactive installations can enhance the architectural experience in ways old-world sculptors and painters could have never even imagined. But will our LEDs still burn as bright in a few hundred years as David’s chiseled contours in the faintest of light?