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‘Knitted light’ produces a photo-luminescent glow

Projects | September 1, 2017 | By:

Jenny Sabin’s Lumen provided the setting for the 20th season of Warm Up, MoMA PS1’s outdoor summer music series. A custom lighting program was incorporated into the design to complement performances. Photos: Pablo Enriquez.

For the last 18 years, the Young Architects Program at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 in Manhattan has sponsored a design competition for emerging architects. The challenge was to develop a creative design for a temporary outdoor installation that provides shade, seating and water. Guidelines regarding environmental issues, including sustainability and recycling, also needed to be addressed.

This year’s winner was Lumen, a design described by creator Jenny Sabin as “knitted light,” referring to the dramatic photo-luminescent glow the structure produced after sundown.

Socially and environmentally responsive, Lumen responded to the density of bodies, heat and sunlight in order to transform throughout the day and night, creating opportunities for people to interact with the work.

To create the design, Sabin and her team at Jenny Sabin Studio worked across disciplines, applying ideas from biology, materials science, mathematics and engineering. High-performing, form fitting and adaptive materials were integrated into a structure in which code, pattern, human interaction, environment, geometry and matter operate together.

The installation consisted of two large cellular canopies made of more than one million yards of digitally knitted and robotically woven fiber, with 250 hanging tubular structures employing photo-luminescent and solar-active yarns that absorb, collect and deliver light.

The design also included 100 robotically woven recycled spool stools for seating and a misting system that created a cooling spray as people approached in the hot summer sun. The project was on display at The Museum of Modern Art PS1 courtyard from July 1 through September 4, 2017. For more information, visit

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