Architecture: Karlundp - Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, München
Landscape architecture: Narr Rist Türk - Landschaftsarchitekten, Stadtplaner & Ingenieure, Marzling
Photos: Henning Koepke
Text: Roberta de Righi
“Mach‘ es wie die Sonnenuhr, zähl‘ die heiteren Stunden nur” (“Like the sundial, count the bright hours only”) is a classic straight out of a poetry album. In this case here, the (mostly cheerful, it is to be hoped) classroom hours are counted by the Sundial 2.0, a multi-part public art piece created by Thomas Silberhorn for the school on Haimhauserstrasse.
The Munich-based artist, however, reverses the ancient, functional principle of the sundial: the hour is not marked by the shadow of a gnomon showing the position of the sun, but by the cone of light shining from a solar-powered spotlight. A mechanical swiveling mirror reflects the light, directing it onto the wall. Both the spotlight and the mirror are digitally controlled and powered by a solar panel module on the school’s roof.
Silberhorn uses the three-story-high wall of the narrow space that connects the old and new wings of the building as a kind of clock face for his modern version of a sundial. He created a scale using written numbers from eight (in the morning) to three (in the afternoon), mounting them in an arrangement on the wall, running from the bottom to the top at increasingly larger intervals. The numbers represent the period of time during which classes are usually held.
The words written in a classic, cursive hand were cut out of Plexiglas and covered with pasted-on foil, which, depending on the light, shimmers in all of the colors of the rainbow. The mirror’s motor ensures that the beam of light travels upward along the scale, lighting up the words on the hour, every hour. This turns the process of telling time into an exciting play of light.
So that people can also experience the technical side, Silberhorn combined his artwork with an operating device and a monitor, located on the second floor, where the students can call up information about its function and operation. In this way, the Sundial 2.0 is enlightening in the best sense of the word: here, the laws of physics and complex technology supply the fascinating effect, while also bringing a magical light into the ordinary school day.