“The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word. Without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.” Galileo Galilei

A mathematical ‘minimal surface’ made of light

“Trefoil” is a minimal surface constructed on the simplest example of a nonttrivial knot. Knot theory and minimal surfaces are mathematical constructs that help us in getting grip on reality, like Galileo Galilei formulated so eloquently.

Trefoil is a lightweight structure of steel and laser light emitting glass fiber. The glassfiber is spanned in straight lines and forms a double curved surface that defines the minimal surface of the articulate shape.

The shape touches the ground on 3 places. Spectators can enter the ‘space’ that is defined by the gentle light, which reacts to the proximity by changing color and intensity.

The mathematical shape of Trefoil creates a strong contrast to its surroundings, and is in play with it. The object creates a dialog with the metaphysical qualities of the context and the scientifically based interpretations we use in understanding it. It is a monument to human intellect, a space that is defined by thought.

Free standing and self supporting

Trefoil is a stable shape made out of a steel truss and glass fiber under tension. It is stable and can stand on its own, but can also be hung or placed on an uneven surface.

The steel truss is made out of standard scaffolding elements, and can therefor be easily be mounted on and adapted to specific site conditions and requirements. As it is very lightweight in relation to its dimensions – approx 7 meter in diameter and 4 meters in height – it should be anchored by elements with weight, into the ground or onto fixed elements in the public space.


Project data


Light Festivals
Rob van Houten