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Corona, Discovery Building, Biocity Nottingham


Location Client Cost Completion
Nottingham, UK Sheetfabs £60,000 facade lighting only April 2017

Project details

Titled ‘Corona’, meaning a coloured halo or an electrical glow, the artwork was created by Nottingham artist Wolfgang Buttress in association with BDP Lighting, using scientific research conducted by Dr Martin Bencsik, physicist from Nottingham Trent University. The lighting design creates a perpetually fluctuating, shimmering lit effect which animates the building’s façade at night.

Wolfgang Buttress describes the artwork:
The facade lighting is linked to two NASA satellites monitoring the surface of the sun for solar flare activity; the Corona sculpture expresses this energy through an ever-changing fibre optic lighting system, reflecting the sun’s activity in real time on the facade of the building. Colours evolve and transform over a 26½ day period – the time it takes the sun to rotate on its axis. The profile of the aluminium extrusions are informed by the negative spaces from lace samples contained within the Nottingham Trent University lace archive.”

The installation covers a 50m x 17m area of the façade with 1160 aluminium extrusions. In amongst the extrusions are woven fibre optic tails which change colour according to the NASA data. The artwork also acts as a brise soleil to provide solar shading to increase the building performance and enhance comfort for the users.

The sculpture has science at its heart and directly responds to the intensity and location of solar flares emanating from the surface of the sun which will manifest through the ebb, flow and intensity of the illumination.

Matt Greenhalgh project architect


  • a ‘living sculpture’ which improves the energy efficiency of the building by day and by night


  • the BREEAM Excellent brise soleil sculpture not only improves the building’s energy efficiency, but also lights the exterior through a ‘curtain’ formed from aluminium poles, creating a new landmark for the city
  • LIT Design Award 2021-Exterior Architectural Illumination 
  • LIT Design Award 2022-Exterior Architectural Illumination 

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