Gallery: SOFTlab’s Colorful Sculpture Brings a Modern Twist to Little I...

Image © Amanda Silvana Coen for InHabitat
Visitors to the traditional San Gennaro festival in Little Italy will find a modern twist welcoming them at the North Gate on Mulberry Street this year. A 25-foot colorful sculpture, Xtra Moenia hangs suspended between a street lamp and the surrounding buildings. Created by SOFTlab with support from St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, the large sculpture is made from Mylar panels and aluminum grommets and is relatively light for its size, weighing only 120 pounds.

As SOFTlab stated, the form was inspired “by one of the simplest and most effective classical architecture devices.” Two oculi form the piece: one pointing up and the other facing the ground defining where pedestrians pass. “The two forms are created using a minimal surface blending the two oculi together in a way that blurs the distinction between the two.”

Xtra Moenia is comprised of photography color filters, aluminum grommets, aluminum pipe and laser-cut Mylar panels that are assembled in a geometric pattern. There are over 4224 laser cut panels, each a unique shape and custom color. Over 6000 aluminum grommets connect the individual panels. The installation is completely site specific as its true form is derived from having the right amount of tension from carefully measured tubes and cables attached to the surrounding buildings.

With so many details involved, the sculpture was a team effort involving a range of people. The geometry was taken care of by Matt Clark at ARUP and the structural efforts to soundly attach it to surrounding buildings was manned by Nathaniel Stanton of CRAFT Engineering. The design team included Michael Szivos, Carrie McKnelly and Sean Madigan and the actual installation process involved more than a dozen people.

The installation was commissioned by Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and produced by The They Co. The final result can be found on Mulberry Street between Houston and Prince Street. It’s only on view until this Sunday, September 25, so catch it before it’s too late — and enjoy a delicious cannoli while you’re at it!

+ SOFTlab

All images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat


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