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Origami-inspired installation made from recycled plastic lights up Columbus, OH

11 Jan 2018
By Anna Marks


Located in the heart of Columbus, Indiana, sits a colourful construction made entirely out of recycled plastic. An ethereal and delicate installation, the structure's hexagonal shape resembles an insect’s hive, which glows and dazzles when lit up in the dark.

Situated next to Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, 'Synergia' is an architectural project constructed by Professor Jiangmei Wu and the students at IU School of Art, Architecture, and Design in Bloomington.


From a distance, Synergia appears as a bright sculpture glowing with colour, but on closer inspection, it materializes into a seated area, providing shelter from the elements.

An experimental project illustrating the students' architectural ability, Synergia exhibits the diverse use of recycled plastic while mimicking the beauty of natural forms: crystals, bubbles and other clusters of matter.


Incorporated with coloured LED lights, Synergia illuminates the church's concrete backdrop facade, creating a stylish dynamic between the light and shadows. 

Constructed as a biomimetic polyhedron with interlocking layers, the installation is made out of translucent laser cut plastic sheets and assembled similarly to the way Lego is slotted into place.


Each of the plastic sheets forms 500 polyhedrons, which are 2-4 feet long creating a hexagonal shape. A frequent aesthetic in natural designs, hexagonal shapes are found in the cells bees produce, and the compact eyes of an insect.

While Synergia illustrates the beauty of taking design inspiration from the natural world, the project reminds us of the benefit of using recycled materials such as plastic in architectural projects and the importance of visually impressive outside furniture for community engagement and wellbeing. 


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