23. May 2016

Earth tubes that top the NOMA building studded with 29,000 points of light.

Lighting design: Cundall Light4
Photos: David Lake Photography

Noma – which stands for North Manchester – is a £800m, 20-acre mixed-use redevelopment project, comprising the creation of 4,000,000 square feet of office, residential, retail, and leisure space. The multidisciplinary consultancy Cundall won a competition to beautify three centrally located concrete and aluminium fin ‘earth tubes’, which serve as an air-intake system for the group office space. Following the growing trend with regard to public realm lighting, Cundall was asked to deliver an interactive, constantly changing lighting installation. Rather than a static display, or one with a limited range of animations, the Noma earth tubes were designed to evolve, and are capable of translating community-made content – provided by schools and students, artists in residence, and data from a specially created app – into dynamic light compositions.

The earth tubes were nothing more than monumental industrial features with a bad image. But light can blow this image away like the wind and render itself the focus of attention. The project is an icon for the beautification of technical industrial elements which have made the urban realm their home.

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