This 3D printed ceramic architectural sculpture appears to float ethereally on a shallow pool!


Set over a shallow, sparkling pool in the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin is a 3D printed sculpture called “Prairie Cord.”

Designer Brian Peters has embarked on an intense journey to explore 3D printed designs, from the parts to the whole. The result of his exploratory process was an outdoor public art installation that appears to float on a serene body of water while playing with light, shadow and reflection during the day and at night. The architectural sculpture imitates a trellis-shaped arch, which artfully reflects off the surface of the pool, creating a bewitching solid cylinder! Although it appears that the sculpture magically floats on the body of water, it is actually supported by a concrete block foundation. Like its name, the structure’s intricate fill pattern is inspired by native prairie string grasses. The creative pattern allows light to filter gently into and out of the installation.

Designer: Brian Peters

The installation was constructed from 80 individual ceramic blocks. Sixteen unique block designs have been distributed among the block collection, depending on where they were placed. This created an assemblage of blocks, accented by a variety of artistic and attractive designs. This temporary installation is nothing boring! Not to mention that all ceramic blocks are 3D printed! The blocks were designed and manufactured by Peters himself, through a custom process he has been working on for years. Once 3D printed in his Pittsburgh studio, the blocks are refined and baked in an oven!

The Prairie Cord is unlike any of the usual facilities we come across. From the manufacturing process to the final structure, there is something magical and unique about every step of this journey. The end result is a beautiful sculpture, which floats ethereally above the shimmering waters!


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