Butterfly In Flight (T5)

Cinimod Studio have designed and delivered an inspiring three-dimensional sculpture for the Itsu food outlet at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

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This new design draws on the studio’s multidisciplinary background in architecture and lighting. Applying new design and fabrication techniques, the original Butterfly In Flight (that can now be found in a dozen Itsu stores across London) has been re-imagined and engineered to create a floating twisting sculptural form that has a major visible presence within the cavernous Terminal 5 building.

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Butterfly In Flight is a product of Cinimod’s on-going research exploring the idea of design in 4 dimensions. Capturing cinematic motion within physical design, this fascination has been symbolised by the motion of a butterfly through various different projects.

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The key components that make up the artwork are the aluminium supporting structure, the light emitting polycarbonate wings and the custom lighting system. The structure consists of a modular construction that when assembled forms a three-dimensionally curving tube. This forms the twisting spine onto which the illuminated wings are fixed.

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Each wing has inlaid within it a high density LED strip that emits light through the clear polycarbonate with a dichroic coating to one side. Individual control means a series of programs that vary throughout the day animate the lighting to articulate the dynamic motion instilled in the design. The overall result is that the wings appear to have a crystalline and delicate appearance, with an iridescent colour that shift as one viewers walk around it.

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Planning and prototyping was crucial to the success of the project. The design process involved close consultation with BAA, where design decisions were made based on some of the most stringent regulations in place at any UK airport. In an incredible feat of materials research, engineering, fabrication and project management, the final sculptural Butterfly In Flight was installed on site in just 2 nights, and now soars 6 metres above the kiosk below.