A colossal, pancake-shaped light installation giving the illusion of the night sky, will feature in Vivid Sydney 2019 under Circular Quay’s Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Designed and built by UNSW students, the Celestial Pancake installation is a suspended four-metre radius ‘ceiling’ composed of fibre optic lights flashing to alternating colour palettes.

Inspired by enthralling space phenomena, the installation illuminates the whole terminal when viewed from afar. 

The list of UNSW staff and student engineers, architects and computational designers on the project includes Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Design student and creative lead Dylan Goh.

“The colossal, floating pancake bathes audiences in light and sound, triggering a return to a childhood state of wonder,” Dylan explains. 

Optic Fibre. Image credit: Tsz Kin William Liu

Dylan is responsible for the artistic integrity of Celestial Pancake from ideation through to completion. His team has designed the renders, lighting effects and audio samples. 

The A&D student says that working alongside other UNSW faculties has helped him recognise the multitude of perspectives, tools and workflows that can be used to approach the same brief.

“I learnt that creating architectural renders often involves crossing software such as Rhino, Lumion and Photoshop to obtain the final result,” he says. “Software engineers require a strong grasp of the installation's visual design in order to check their outputs are matching the intended vision.”

Creating Celestial Pancake took around 11 months. But, as Dylan describes, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows –there were technical, logical and financial hiccups along the way.

“There were times when frequent iterations of the design were required in order to fit within constraints and deliver the project on time,” he says.

Testing lights. Image credit: Tsz Kin William Liu

“As the Art & Design lead, my role focused on preserving the artistic integrity of the project throughout these revisions. I learnt the importance of listening across all teams to ensure cohesion in planning and action. I also discovered how finding common ground and working within constraints leads to better collaboration and results.”

A major highlight for Dylan came when the team realised how close they were to completing the project. 

“Seeing the happiness wiped onto the faces of all contributors as they crawled under the pancake and brushed up against the glistening fibre optics, was unforgettable,” he says. 

“Oh, my goodness. We have a flying pancake in Vivid.”