On The Desert Island in Cottesloe Beach, Australia, a 72-meter wall of mirrors partitions out a section of the sand, creating a cove of its own. The wall faces the Indian Ocean, and the curved reflection of sand merging with the soft-blue waters and the horizon beyond creates an illusion of an enclosed space; a desert island floating in an endless sea.
Conceived of by the Danish architecture studio Gjøde & Partnere Arkitekter, the installation was part of the annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibition in Australia last month. It is the largest free public sculpture exhibition in the world, and anyone can submit their ideas. As beachgoers stumbled upon this panorama of the shore upon sand, they danced, took photos, and watched the sunset from the wavering reflections of the mythical island.
It is a sublime installation, where isolation and togetherness mirror each other. Johan Gjøde, creative director and founder of Gjøde & Partnere Arkitekter. describes the installation as both a framing of the landscape and a framework for social interaction:
The movement and interaction of people on The Desert Island is an integral part of the experience of the work. Kids playing on the beach, couples walking in the sand, friends relaxing together -all shapes and colors become part of the installation. Facing west the installation also catches and emphasizes the spectacular sunsets for which the area is renowned thus adding a new spatial dimension to this scenic event
Using simple geeometry and reflection as visual effect, the firm has created an inviting space for people to interact both socially and with the scenery. Not only does the curved wall create the illusion of an isolated island and trigger the imaginaton, people who enter also experience the simple beauty of the ever-changing landscape together. They become part of the reflection of the scenic surroundings and the installation itself.
And at sunset, it looks like tens of splendid suns have descended upon the île of sand.
The curved wall that distinguishes this space is a 63.4 meter wide semicircle and covers an area of 880 sqm. While it functions in a mythical way, its construction is more simple, practical, and down-to-earth. It was created by glass mirrors glued to standard sized plywood boards and supported by triangular timber frames. The timber frames are then attached to a steel plate, that is then covered by half a meter of sand. The weight of this sand over steel plates is what fixates the entire installation in the ground so that the semi-circled wall can withstand the enormous wind pressure from the coast.
This installation is the largest by the studio Gjøde & Partnere Arkitekter. Another prominent project from the firm is The Infinite Bridge, first exhibited at Sculpture by the Sea in 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark, and later rebuilt as a permanent installation at the same location.
The video below shows footage of this installation as well as some other impressive, provoking structures that make up Sculpture by the Sea 2018.