Atrium Art

Atrium art at duskThis commission is a neon light sculpture, suspended from the roof in each of the three atrium areas in the Brunel building.

The three-part sculptures aims:

  • Draw people into and through the concourse from the main entrance to the Brunel building, creating routes through the space
  • Define the three areas and the end of concourse itself
  • Be bold, with a sense of scale appropriate to the high ceiling of the concourse
  • Contribute to the identity of the concourse, create a sense of arrival and excitement
  • Create a lively environment
  • Be able to be viewed from different perspectives along the concourse

This artwork creates a feature for the huge and lofty atrium seen by everyone visiting and working in the hospital. 

The sculpture is a series of neon lines and circles which also function as a binary clock. For those who know the principle of the binary clock, the sculpture can easily be read. To those who do not know the principle, the suspended lights will remain an abstract light sculpture, beautiful in its own right. 

Within each of the three atrium areas, there is a suspended combination of circular and straight coloured neon elements. In each atrium the rings correspond to the hours, the horizontal straight elements correspond to ten minute fractions and the vertical straight elements correspond to single minutes. Each light sculpture follows the same logic and each atrium has a slightly different layout for these different elements.

Over the whole space, there are 78 neon pieces, including 36 rings measuring between 190 cm and 250 cm in diameter and 42 straight pieces (horizontal and vertical) measuring between 120 cm and 130 cm long. The design is a complex arrangement of suspension wires, neon elements, power cabling and computers to control the clock. The design has involved a high level of collaboration between the artist, architect and construction company in order to ensure that the artwork is fully integrated into the building. 

Each of the 78 neon light elements was made by hand from hand-blown glass in Germany by the German Company Nordlicht which has led the field of illuminated advertisements since 1949. Nordlicht uses traditional German production methods of glass blowing and metal working to produce the neon sculpture at its works in Offenbach. Nordlicht installed the sculptures in the Brunel building. The artist oversaw the final stages of the installation.
The installation involved hoisting the sculptures right up into the roof, which is in some places up to 30 metres high, setting each neon element at the right height to build up the composition in each atrium. 

About the Artist – Tobias Rehberger

Tobias Rehberger was born in Esslingen/Neckar, Germany, in 1966. He studied at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, the city where he still lives and works. He has an international reputation for his various forms of artistic work: sculptures, industrial objects and handcrafted articles. Drawing on a repertoire of everyday objects appropriated from everyday mass culture, Tobias plays with, alters and expands ordinary objects with which we are familiar. Tobias’s objects and environments mimic the glossy perfection of the manufactured yet their idiosyncrasies in terms of their colour, size, function and location demand new ways of looking and understanding by the audience.