Client: Roche Diagnostics GmbH
Location: Munich, Germany
Completion date: 2018
Raphael’s Pendulum is an iconic installation in the atrium of the Pharma and Diagnostics Centre Roche in Penzberg–a place of forward-thinking research and knowledge transfer. It transports the beginnings of European intellectual and scientific history to the Research Center in the form of Raphael’s painting “School of Athens”, rendering the virtual painting visible over time as a circular screen moves across its plane.
Raphael’s Pendulum brings a sense of identity and uniqueness to the building and its users. It has become a point of identification for the its community and communicates Roche’s ambition for ground-breaking research.
Roche Diagnostics GmbH invited us to create an iconic installation for the atrium of the Pharma and Diagnostics Center Roche. The installation was to correspond with the architecture, bring a sense of identity and uniqueness to the building, and help employees of the departments or Research, Education and Medicine to identify with the space.
Our response was a kinetic installation that transports the beginnings of European intellectual and scientific history to the Research Center in the form of Raphael’s famous painting “School of Athens”. The painting celebrates the sciences and their pioneers, and presents the various possibilities of gaining knowledge: thinking, writing, painting, reading, discussing, listening, teaching and learning.
In the atrium, a pendulum–a circular LED-screen that is suspended from two thin and long steel cables–renders the virtual painting visible over time. It slowly moves across a plane that spans a height of 18 meters, four building floors, and a width of almost 13 meters. The painting’s strict central perspective corresponds to the strong symmetry of the architecture.
The pendulum focuses on the 21 identifiable personalities of the 58 people portrayed and swings over nearly the entire image.
Raphael’s Pendulum addresses the advancement of research and the production of knowledge while simultaneously referring to pioneering achievements of the past. It communicates Roche’s ambition for ground-braking research and education in a beautiful and elaborate way.
The installation has become a central meeting point and point of identification for the Roche community. In response to “Raphael’s Pendulum”, employees have even named their workspaces after the pioneering scientists and thinkers.
The kinetic pendulum is in itself a piece of mechatronic precision and technical accomplishment. Two computer-controlled motors determine the position of the pendulum with micrometric precision leading it from one position to the next at a consistent speed. Its movement follows a kinetic choreography. The first swing of the pendulum moves to Raphael’s self-portrait. After another swing, the screen pauses at a different figure. The sequence of the pendulum’s swings and the figures highlighted correlate to their facial similarity to Raphael, which we determined computationally.