TU/e students return to GLOW bigger and stronger

They had to re-adjust their ambitions temporarily in 2018, but they’re back this year, bigger and stronger. ‘Hypar’ is the name of the new installation with which TU/e student team IGNITE will shine at light art festival GLOW for the second year in a row. And, what’s more, at a prime location: Hypar will have a spot in the middle of the Markt square.

image Team IGNITE

The cubes of which the system is composed were in the earliest stages of development and the team still had to figure out the electronics. “Hypar was our first concept, but we weren’t able to develop it in time for last year’s edition of GLOW,” says Built Environment student and team spokesman Niels Dusseldorp as he looks back. Nevertheless, team IGNITE was given a podium during the 2018 edition of the light art festival, where they presented ‘Loop,’ a smaller version of the installation that consisted of twenty cubes.

A valuable learning experience, Dusseldorp says. The entire construction process, integrating the electronics, having to deal with quite a large audience, “the valuable lessons we drew from that helped us this year.” The partly new team has been working towards GLOW 2019 this year, with the “constructively much more challenging” Hypar. The installation is created in the pattern of a hyperbolic paraboloid: an arch shape in three directions. To accomplish this, the team collaborates with assistant professor Faas Moonen, among others. The IGNITE team is a shared committee of study associations CHEOPS (Built environment) and Lucid (Industrial Design), the associations that also originally started the project.

Large spans

Dusseldorp: “The silhouette hasn’t changed in relation to our original concept; the shape and construction were optimized though, and the joints were reinforced in certain places. We also use a hundred and sixty cubes instead of two hundred, as we originally intended. A cube is relatively heavy and we are dealing with seriously large spans, which means that the lower cubes have to carry an enormous weight. An entire shape consisting of two hundred cubes proved to be slightly too challenging.” 

In addition, the entire electronics system was given an update, Dusseldorp says. “We made everything ourselves, manually, when we worked on Loop. Now we had customized led strips made for us, because, for one reason, it accelerates the process somewhat.”

The cubes are made of aluminum and are half a cubic meter large each. They form the basis of a modular system that can produce various shapes of light. IGNITE previously presented smaller light installations during former TU/e administrator Jo van Ham’s farewell festivity, the university’s open days, and music festival Conduct.


“The system’s modularity and that fact that it can be used for different purposes is very important, also in light of the future,” Dusseldorp says. The Built Environment student doesn’t rule out the possibility that IGNITE could eventually become a startup. But for now, the team is focused on GLOW, which starts on November 9. The TU/e student team’s six-meter high installation will have a prominent place on the Markt square, surrounded by terraces.

“A fantastic location,” Dusseldorp agrees. “GLOW’s organizing committee was very enthusiastic about our concept from the start. We’re building a fairly large installation this year, and they believe it could become on the headliners of this year’s edition.” GLOW usually attracts somewhere between 700,000 and 800,000 visitors during an eight-day period. Approximately eighty percent of these visitors visit the Markt square, according to Dusseldorp.

Crowd management

Hypar will encourage public interaction by means of touch and collaboration. There are two pillars on both sides of the artwork (symbolically dubbed ‘Nature’ and ‘Technology’) with which visitors can send energy, i.e. light, into the installation. However, the visual reward will be even more spectacular when the elements ‘Nature’ and ‘Technology’ successfully collaborate, Dusseldorp explains.

Unlike with last year’s Loop, visitors can pass under the installation, “a huge challenge as far as crowd management is concerned,” Dusseldorp says. That is why six team members will be posted next to the machine permanently to handle visitor flow, and to make sure no one will climb into or hang from the installation.

Internal agreements prevent Dusseldorp from disclosing how much Hypar costs. What he can say, is that financing was arranged through a collaboration with various parties that support the team by offering advice and “great discounts” on materials.

innovation Space

IGNITE currently operates from TU/e innovation Space. The team doesn’t have its own office there, “but we have access to several different facilities and storage spaces.” The team is also involved with Life of Light, the USE course that challenges Bachelor’s students to think about new interactive concepts with light.

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