design: stephan lücke
typology: membrane shading structure
competition: 2002
client: detmold marketing

The initial brief from Detmold Marketing asked to design distinctive entrance gates to the city centre of Detmold. These temporary structures should invite and attract visitors to plunge into a unique shopping experience during the Christmas season setting the city apart from other cities in the competition for visitors. The competition is in line with a series of measures to further boost the city’s dedication to culture and art. The elements were to be weather resistant, easy to store and to transport.

The currently used decoration for the Christmas season is of the traditional fir festoon type that can be seen all over the country. The existing contemporary nightly illumination of the marketplace is an acclaimed break with this tradition already established and accepted by the public. This land art feature shall be the core of the new design developed around it. The narrow pedestrian areas and alleys are intimate urban spaces characterized by the verticality of the space and the adjacent facades as well as the street furniture and exterior lighting. The placement of additional vertical elements at the suggested locations would not suit the demand for a distinctive new atmosphere created by the temporary structures. Instead of simple gates the idea is to “Shape the Way” emphasising the intimate nature of the long alleys by adding a horizontal element thus closing the space further and using the canvas of a black winter sky for a truly different light sculpture. The festive glow of the contemporary illuminated membranes will be a counterweight to the prevailing verticality of the historic facades of the city centre. The festive shading to the urban space is achieved by two chains of simple linked membrane elements that revolve around each other like a double helix. The light structure is anchored to the facades and illuminated in two different ways. The lower membrane elements are back-lit resulting in warm scattered light straying through the translucent cloth. The upper membrane elements reflect light from low level flood lights. Unrecognizable low programmed colour changes of the multi colour LED-Lights create a unique atmosphere at any time during the busy evenings defying the grey and cold winter atmosphere.