A glowing stainless steel serpent is breathing life into a new public plaza in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Designed by landscape architecture firm Mikyoung Kim Design, this 70-foot outdoor sculpture outperforms your average showy art piece. Featured over at Architect's Newspaper, "Exhale" is an interactive installation that draws viewers in with colorful LED light shows and fog effects that emanate through layers of perforated metal scales. Best of all, the sculpture acts as a stormwater management system to help reduce rain runoff.
Completed in April 2013, Mikyoung Kim Design‘s new art sculpture was unveiled as the main focal point of a new public plaza in downtown Chapel Hill. The misting sequence offers a welcome respite from hot summers, and it was built upon an initial design concept that focused on the site’s hydrological elements. Exhale’s final linear form and folded, perforated metal skin were inspired by Mikyoung Kim’s serendipitous experiments with folding layers of trace paper.
The magic of Exhale is hidden beneath its folded and layered metal skin in an internal misting tube that releases fog through a high-pressure spray. A looped, 10-minute light show of color changing LEDs accompanies the misting sequence, creating the illusion of a living, breathing object. Laser-cut perforations are more closely spaced near the top than the bottom to give the sculpture a sense of rolling movement.
Almost fifty massive sheets of laser-cut, marine-grade stainless steel were first assembled off site and then craned in for welding on site. The final positioning and curvature of the installation were adjusted to fit the shape of the plaza’s uneven terrain.
Images via Mikyoung Kim Design, Marc Larosa