Dragon-like spiral installation by HCCH studio infuses sci-fi aesthetics into shanghai district

Designboom_ A vibrant spiraling installation by HCCH Studio welcomes passersby to the entrance of the newly constructed Shikumen-style commercial district in Shanghai. Comprised of 1,300 elliptical illuminated rings and colorful bands, the public artwork bears a resemblance to a dragon-shaped creature celebrating the Lunar New Year. Given the district’s focus on local food shops, the design team aimed for the piece to also look like the ‘youtiao’ twisted fried pastry, a traditional breakfast item in Shanghai. The resulting installation infuses the urban area with nostalgic elements and a futuristic sci-fi aesthetic.

HCCH Studio opted for a space-saving approach and proposed a suspended installation above the main promenade instead of traditional plaza sculptures or entrance arches. The design consists of two gracefully curved double spirals of rings that glow in the dark. These helixes form an X-shaped steel frame suspended from steel cables attached to the gable walls. The continuous curved surface creates a dynamic and ever-changing visual perspective that enhances the experience from different directions and at different levels within the neighborhood.

The connection of the rings to the main structure is inspired by traditional weaving patterns that were often used by the previous generation to make tote bags. The rings are flexibly connected to each other by the usually 5 cm wide woven bands, and their position is fixed by a sewing detail at the intersection of the bands. All weaving and threading work is carried out by hand on site. The continuously curved surfaces, the green and orange woven ribbons, and the enlarged handmade nodes contrast with the narrow alleys, gray bricks, and red tiles. At night, the people walking under the spirals of light encounter a captivating retro city scene.