Where there’s light

01 Jun 2018

“I’m really into temporary structures and the activation of public spaces ... how they can be used to draw people in, create energy and bring more life into the city.”

Old Boy and recent Master of Architecture graduate James Russell created his immersive, transportable lighting installation Light Field to support the theories he explored in his thesis, which looks at how taking an experiential approach to architecture can transform neglected public spaces – taking the conceptual idea and building it in a real world setting.

Light Field is a series of 36 modular extruded posts packed with automated LED lights, each standing 2.5 metres high, and brought to life using a dramatic repertoire of lighting effects, music and sounds. It offers a 360-degree experience, designed to invite people in and stimulate their emotions and senses, and featured in the Bright Nights festival at the Auckland waterfront in March.

James says his fascination with temporary structures began when he took part in Christchurch’s Festival of Transitional Architecture (FESTA) in 2014. “A group of us came down from Auckland and over just a few days built structures that, temporarily at least, transformed the empty earthquake-damaged central city into a space with life, energy and hope for the future. That’s what pushed me towards where I am now. It was so cool, I was hooked.”

At College, James was into design and graphics, loved building things in the workshop, and says he was more creative than academic. Architecture seemed like a natural progression and now, working as part of the team at Angus Muir Design, he is happy building a niche in the space where art and architecture collide.