Light Obelisk | Rome | 2000
date: 1999 – 2000
client: Disarmament Archives, Municipality of Rome
object: “Light Obelisk” for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 in Termini station square, Rome
Height 35.00 m
Diameter 1.50 m
project stage: Preliminary, definitive, executive and
The light obelisk, wanted by the promoting institute on the occasion of the jubilee year, symbolically represents peace and world nuclear disarmament, indicating in real time the number of nuclear warhead that are still active with reference to international agreements.
The Obelisk is a concentration of light, a sort of condenser able to communicate and visualize the qualities (colour) and the quantities (intensity) of light: pilgrims go through it, learning data on luminous conditions and symbolically purifying themselves in a “light bath”. In the daytime it is extremely reactive and sensitive to environmental brightness, expressively communicating its changes and qualities, while in the nighttime it mainly shows itself as a poetic, spiritual and reassuring presence.
The design of the light obelisk has been developed by analogy with the bone and cartilaginous vertebral prestressed structures, using materials that are not conventional in the building field, but employed in the automotive and aircraft sector. The structure of the obelisk is vertebral cylindrical, with a 35 m height and an inner diameter of 1.50 m; its connection vertebras are made of an aluminium-silicon-magnesium alloy fusion and are connected by means of inner precompression rods of stainless steel and by outer strays.
The cylinder is composed of a set of ten supporting rings, each of which is 2.50 m high, made of three transparent polycarbonate Lexan Exel 9030 12 mm thick sheets; an optical microprism OLF film produced by 3 M has been applied on the inner side.
A light plant with xenon sources, which is able to convey the light uniformly for the entire height thanks to the OLF film, has been installed on the base of the obelisk, varying intensity and chromatic range when environmental conditions change.
During the daytime it works as an amplifier of the given light conditions, concentrating the light flows collected in the atmosphere inside and projecting them across the base; during the night time the obelisk gives off its own light, turning itself into an urban presence of great charm. The light energy accumulated during the day is released in the night, offering safety and relief to people moving around in the city.