KAIA International Airport, Saudi Arabia

25th February 2020

Light-art sculptures by M+R greet passengers coming through the departures hall at the new KAIA International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Neil Musson and Jono Retallick of M+R have recently unveiled their latest artwork Dawn inside the new KAIA International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The artwork was commissioned by Areen Design, who managed the interior design for the vast space in which the sculpture is located.

“The illuminated sculpture forms a centrepiece consisting of four enormous sculptures that spiral upwards like currents of air into the curved rooves of the main hall,” explained Retallick.

The sculptures are comprised of colour-changing wing-shaped translucent acrylic blades that reflect light. Individually programmed LED light strips, located on the inside of each blade, illuminate the outer surfaces with a palette of sky-blues, soft greys and subtle whites. The programmed light sequence mimics the movement of clouds drifting across the sky; as the light drifts across each sculpture towards an adjacent sculpture located further down the departure hall.

Musson elaborated: “We started with the shapes and forms being used in the architectural scheme and expanded these with the concept of birds in flight. The form captures the moment that a flock of birds suddenly takes off as one dynamic shape. We started with chalk sketches and are pleased to see that the energy of those sketches remains in the final sculptures.”

Each individual light-art piece is comprised of 80 custom-made blades supported by 160 weight-bearing wires of differing lengths.

“The extraordinary engineering, made possible by Colin Musson, used complex computer modelling to ensure that no blades or wires touched each other or changed the delicate overall shape of the cluster of wings.

“Each wire carries data to the blades and is also carefully considered as part of the sculptural form. The cables were chosen for their translucent and reflective qualities with the result that they glisten as light shines through them rather like a fine rain,” explained Retallick.

M+R’s sculptural light effect brings a sense of calm into the centre of a busy airport, and “uses metaphors of light reflecting and refracting within the structure to suggest the way in which peoples’ lives cross over and influence each other in this busy space,” he added.

The team developed the pieces through close collaboration with Applelec, to design the blades using its LED light sheet, and Control Lighting to develop the programming. Ray Dolby of Control Lighting commented: “This is one of the most exciting and interesting projects that we have been part of for many years. Whilst we have worked extensively on both artwork and commercial lighting control projects, Neil and Jono’s knowledge of exactly what they wanted and their amazing attention to detail was remarkable. They involved us closely at all stages, so we really bought into their vision.”

M+R’s portfolio of work particularly focuses on the sensitive integration of art into architecture, with the aim of enhancing social interaction.

“We enjoy collaboration and consider the client, the engineers and the public a vital part of our creative team. We look forward to the next challenge and aim to make something else that is equally high quality, beautiful and original.”