Lisbon is a very picturesque city, with beautiful architecture, Gothic edifices and artistic medieval fortresses. But now, it can boast of housing one of the greatest, artistic works of the modern era, The Frozen Trees. A temporary instillation created for Christmas as a special lighting effect, these self-sufficient, structured streetlight cylinders are placed throughout the D. Pedro IV Square and have now become permanent fixtures. A special one among the 7 projects scrutinized and selected by the Lisbon City Hall and the Museum of Design and Fashion, Frozen Trees is perhaps one of the most stunning instalments in Lisbon, depicting the creativity of LIKE Architects.
LIKE Architects is a Porto based architecture studio renowned for their experimental, provocative and innovative structures. Diogo Aguiar, João Jesus, and Teresa Otto, the partners of the firm have based their practice on the education they received from the School of Architecture of the University of Porto and have innovated from the knowledge gathered from other architectural firms. Frozen Trees are one among their most prominent works of architecture.
Taking advantage from its shape, Frozen Trees is a structural marvel which according to those who have passed by it depicts a different message every time and not necessarily for the purpose of illuminating the square during Christmas.
Frozen Trees is a quick production item which also have the unique ability to be picked up and transported anywhere without damaging anything. The easy set-up procedure also ensures that the structures don’t get damaged. The illumination is based upon a white monochromatic LED system, characterized by low voltage and energy consumption and also able to adjust the light’s intensity.
The structure consists of two parts. First is the light metal structure which has vertical profiles and were provided by IKEA and next come the horizontal triangular rings which are monochromatic LED lights. The 30 cylinders were first assembled at the LIKE Architects Studio and then disassembled to be transported to the square. Once it reached the square it was reassembled and properly fixed for stability.
The architectural uniqueness of the cylinders are the multiple holes, which along with the translucent properties of the material with which it is created, namely – The Polypropylene Plastic, helps in the transmittance of light, either natural or artificial. The material is simultaneously flexible, non-inflammable and highly absorbing which is why it possesses the ability to transmit both natural and artificial light. The ethereal beauty of Frozen Trees lies in its dual personality of portraying different images during the day and night. By day, the trees make surprising shadows and also give very abstract images, and by night, illuminated from inside by LEDs, the elements, as street lamps, illuminate the square with pure white light thus creating a Christmas-ish feel.
Another startling fact is that each element’s energy supply is produced entirely by a car battery that makes it extremely energy efficient and instrumental during Christmas season. The important message that the makers want to send through this structure is preservation of energy and its efficiency. On the one hand, polypropylene plastic pieces are reusable and highly recyclable. And on the other hand, the cost benefit ratio ensures that the price of the materials is affordable despite being extremely costly in real prices.
LIKE Architects are thus, without a doubt one of the most innovative and inspirational firms in the modern architecture industry. With a dedicated team aimed at delivering world-class quality structures with a deep and impacting social message, they are fast becoming role models in their own way and The Frozen Trees only add to their long list of credits. LIKE, however, still aims to maintain its environmental cause and have structured the pillars in such a way that they can be taken part and transported to any other place. The 2400 plastic pieces provided by IKEA have been produced in an eco-friendly manner and will be disposed off similarly. The architects are currently finding a new location for the structure to be shifted to.
Frozen Trees thus packs more than just a punch. Not only is it modern art and architecture at its best, but a strong environmental message is also being delivered simultaneously. Hopefully, the world will take notice and in the future, the Frozen Trees will merely be modern art and not reminders of man’s mistakes.