The architects Michael Hopkins and Partners invited Dante Leonelli to submit a proposal for their atrium at the Schlumberger Research Centre in Cambridge. The brief was to have a permanent installation similar to Leonelli’s Ricochet, a temporary installation at Norman Foster’s Sainsbury Centre for the Arts.
Visiting the site, Leonelli made an alternative proposal – one he considered more relevant to the trees and people using the Atrium. He did not think the Atrium needed a large permanent fabric structure (sculpture) within a fabric structure. He felt a more transmutable solution was needed to reflect the ecological intimations of the Atrium.
Descending from the whole width of the Atrium’s ceiling, a gently descending screen of fine mist would disappear into a reflective trough. A laser-like quartz-halogen whitelight would be beamed precisely through a strategically positioned prism, finally projecting onto the mist-screen a huge shivering, rippling rainbow.
For Leonelli there was an appealing advantage of this proposal. Apart from any aesthetic or other benefits (like the positive ionization of air within the Atrium refreshing both trees and people) it was that the Schlumberger Rainbow installation could disappear, by simply switching parts or all of it on or off at will.