XIANGYANG – No fewer than 500 rectangular ‘fins’ feature in a 5000-m2 landscape installation that rises from a plaza on the outskirts of Xiangyang, a city in the Chinese province of Hubei. Chris Pecht and Dayong Sun of Being-based office Penda cite the rolling contours of surrounding hills and the verticality of nearby trees as inspiration for their huge ‘sound wave’, whose uprights vary in height from 2 to 13 m. The striking project, for which Penda won a 2013 competition, forms the entrance to a large public area known as Myrtle Tree Garden. Penda’s artificial landscape reflects the client’s wish for a ‘healthier’ environment.

‘Like many Chinese cities, Xiangyang is undergoing heavy development, and public spaces get narrowed down when that happens,’ says Pecht. He points out that by varying the angles and densities of the fins, and by using different shades of purple, the colour of myrtle blossoms, Penda produced a sculptural installation that makes people feel as if they are ‘strolling in a purple forest’ – an especially vivid experience on sunny days. When evening falls and locals gather for group dancing, the ‘forest’ becomes an interactive light sculpture. Perforations in each fin are equipped with LED lights, which are connected to the plaza’s sound system and programmed to react to sound and movement. Loud music and lively steps increase the level of luminosity.

This article debuted in Frame #105 alongside many other inspirational interviews and projects. Find your copy here.

Photo Xia Zhi, courtesy of Penda