This 3D printed ceramic architectural sculpture looks like it is ethereally floating on a shallow pool!

Placed on a glistening shallow pool, at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin is a 3D printed sculpture called the ‘Prairie Cord’.

Designer Brian Peters embarked on an intense journey to explore 3D printed designs – from parts to whole. The result of his exploratory process was an exterior public art installation that seems like it floats on a serene water body while playing with light, shadow, and reflection during the day, as well as the night. The architectural sculpture mimics a lattice-like arc, which is artfully reflected on the surface of the pool, creating a mesmerizing full cylinder! Although it seems as if the sculpture is magically floating on the water body, it is in fact supported by a foundation of concrete blocks. Much like its name, the intricate infill pattern on the structure is inspired by the native prairie cord grasses. The creative pattern allows light to gently filter in and out of the installation.

Designer: Brian Peters

The installation was built from 80 individual ceramic blocks. Sixteen unique block designs were distributed amongst the collection of blocks, depending on where they were placed. This created an assemblage of blocks, accentuated by a variety of artistic and attractive patterns. There’s nothing boring about this temporary installation! Not to mention, all of the ceramic blocks are 3D printed! The blocks have been designed and fabricated by Peters himself, via a custom process that he has been working on for years. Once 3D printed in his studio in Pittsburgh, the blocks are refined and fired in a kiln!

The Prairie Cord is unlike any of the usual installations we come across. From the fabrication process to the final structure – there is something magical and unique in every part of this journey. The end result is a beautiful sculpture, that ethereally floats atop mirrored waters!