Saipan in the Pacific Ocean is a popular holiday island for Chinese people. The holiday paradise has now been enriched with a new attraction. Two huge glass dragons float over the lobby of the casino at the Imperial Palace luxury resort. They are the largest glass dragons in the world and are set to be included in the Guinness Book of Records.
The breathtaking sculpture made of stainless steel, gold and crystals was created by the Czech design and glass company Lasvit over three years of construction. The two dragons weigh a combined forty tons. Each of them is 32 metres long. Their bodies are covered with 2.5 million Swarowski crystals, which were individually fitted by hand. The crystal scales on the dragons’ bodies are illuminated, which means that the dragon can change colour in an instant. The designers from Lasvit took their inspiration from Chinese mythology. Dragons are popular mythical creatures in China. They are considered gods and the dragon dance is still an important tradition in China today.
“This project is the largest installation we have ever created. It helped us extend the limits of what can be done with glass and metal. For the project, we had to combine two traditional crafts – glass making and meta smithing. We used in-depth knowledge from the two areas and added the latest technology to make the work even better”, says a proud Leon Jakimič, the founder and President of Lasvit.
To cover the body of the dragon, Lasvit produced 13,000 stainless steel scales fitted with crystals. More than 2.5 million Swarovski crystals provide the shimmering decoration. “The light refracts into the rainbow effects that are typical of polished crystals, which is critical for the visual appeal of the dragons. Their entire body is dynamically illuminated using hidden rgbw LED chips, which generate a warm, natural looking glow”, says Táňa Dvořáková, who designed the installation in collaboration with Adam Kohout and the interior architects responsible for the overall design concept. Thanks to the programmed rgbw LED chips, the crystals act like a huge screen that follows the shape of the dragon body. Each light source can change between red, green, blue and white light.
The connection solutions for the shining dragon installation come from LAPP. “A representative from Lasvit called me shortly before Christmas 2016. They urgently needed help with supplying pre-assembled EPIC® sensor M12 connectors for the new project. We worked together over the Christmas holidays – arranged prices, negotiated the conditions and worked out all the details”, says Vladimir Tonder, a member of the sales team at LAPP Czech Republic. LAPP supplied nearly 7000 EPIC® connectors for the installation, including pre-assembled EPIC® Sensor M12 connectors with stainless steel knurl for connecting sensors and actuators. For the power supply, the halogen-free ÖLFLEX® CLASSIC 110 H control cable and the MULTI-STANDARD SC 2.1 power and control cable with PVC sheath were primarily used, along with SKINTOP® cable glands, mostly the SKINTOP® ST-M. It is glass fibre-reinforced and provides excellent mechanical stability.
All LED modules are individually controlled by a computer, allowing the skin colour of each dragon to be changed by a single click. Each dragon is supported by a skeleton made of hollow tubes with circular transverse reinforcement, which forms the complete shape and line of the dragon’s body. The design satisfies two basic requirements for installation and maintenance – it is accessible (including transportation of the internal control panels) and allows individual scales to be replaced. A further challenge is that the island of Saipan is located in an active seismic area and therefore the dragons must be able to withstand a possible earthquake. “In their current state, the dragons can withstand earthquakes measuring seven on the Richter Scale”, explained Martin Šikola, Director of Technology and Innovation at Lasvit.
Video: © LASVIT – Crystal Dragons, Imperial Palace Saipan