An “extreme cantilever” built from aluminum and polypropylene rope was built to hover over the courtyard of Materials & Applications (M&A) in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Created by Sci-Arc professors Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu, Density Fields defies classification as either sculpture or architecture. The piece extends imaginary lines of force beyond the small courtyard, seeming to pierce buildings and features in the neighborhood.

The primary structural question Oyler-Wu Collaborative asked is, “What makes the idea of using lines different in terms of their structural properties?” The idea addresses tensile properties, thereby limiting the structural possibilities, but also allows for a more specific way of designing that exploits tensile strength. This line of inquiry led them to a structural principle that utilizes a dense field of lines. The installation consists of two basic materials: (1) an aluminum frame extending up from the ground and out into the space, and (2) a series of fine, tensioned cables pulling the cantilever in the opposite direction — forcing it to hover above the ground.

The development of this piece began with the imaginary violent attack of the bristling sculpture on the neighboring buildings, then with careful editing of the geometrical elements, the sculpture retracted back to its tensed position in the M&A courtyard. Oyler-Wu Collaborative’s goal is to negotiate the structural ideas, the programmatic needs of the space, and the desire to use basic geometries to create a rich spatial experience within the space itself.

Density Fields was designed by Oyler Wu Collaborative (Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu) and engineered by Bruce Danziger of ARUP.