Sonumbra in Sunderland

WHERE: Mowbray Park, Sunderland
WHEN: December 2006
CLIENT: Newcastle Gateshead Initiative & Sunderland City Council

We realised the first version of Sonumbra as a responsive play space in Mowbray Park, Sunderland in 2006. Commissioned by Newcastle Gateshead Initiative and Sunderland City Council and supported by ISIS Arts.

Sonumbra is part of an experimental body of work exploring how fibre-based technologies from photovoltaics to low power lighting, can be crafted to provide light and shade for a community of people. Strands of light are laced into huge parasols with the potential to offer shelter from the sun by day and shed light for a local community at night using energy collected from solar cells embedded in its canopy.

We have been working with electro-luminescent technology for more than 10 years and are internationally recognised for pioneering use of this low-energy light source. The studio has developed a unique lace technique (Lumilace) to create architectural scale, animated textiles controlled by custom made hard and software solutions.

Together with Risø DTU, the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy in Denmark, Loop.pH has developed canopies using printed, organic solar cells. These low cost, flexible cells become part of the architectural textile.

  • Concept & Design: Rachel Wingfield & Mathias Gmachl
  • Production: Mathias Gmachl
  • Sound design & software: Alberto de Campo
  • Fabrication assistants: Camalo Gaskin & Dave Falconer
  • Many thanks to: Gail Baxter, Carol Quarini, Dani Salvadori & Harry White


a responsive play space

a responsive play space