The ‘Tram Travellers’ (‘Kyytiläiset’ in Finnish) are ten human figures glowing light while waiting for their first tram ride. This unique temporary light installation is a part of Tampere Light Festival and a part of Tampere Tramway’s Art Programme.

Tampere, an old industrial town, located two hours up north from the capital Helsinki, is growing fast and public transportation needs to be renewed and made more efficient and sustainable. Tramway is the answer for this demand and trams will start to run in autumn 2021.

Because of the construction of tramway, the Tampere infrastructure has been a mess for a few years now. Especially the streetscape of main street Hämeenkatu has taken the biggest hit. ‘Tram Travellers’ installation was created to ease the look of the challenging environment.

The glowing figures have been there to lighten up the street view during the long and dark winter season 2019-2020. The installation is in interaction to its surroundings and the locations were chosen according to the visibility and three-dimensionality. The travellers have different activities – one is waving hand to by-passers and another is checking messages from mobile. Nevertheless, they maintain suitable distance between each other, this physical distancing while waiting public transport is very typical in Finnish culture. For the coming winter 2020-2021, the installation will be situated according to where the tramway construction site is located.

The tram colour will be red – as a recognition to the historical red brick architecture of Tampere. The backgrounds of the ‘Tram Travellers’ are illuminated with red-orange light that links the installation to the new tram.

The art concept and installation design was created by WSP Design Studio’s lighting designers Annukka Larsen and Heini Myllyoja. They defined the sizes, poses and materials of the figures as well as the locations and the scale of the installation. Then Estonian sculptor and light artist Elo Liiv carried the work further by 3D-modelling the poses and made tests about the construction.

MK Illumination, a company producing festive lighting was in charge of the production of the figures. Every figure is bent to its form using aluminium wires and tubes. They are covered with white translucent UV-protected plastic wrap. Light chains circling inside make the light even on the surface. Figures were assembled manually and given their final form by artists Elo Liiv and Põvvat Kama.

Installation company Tampereen Vera installed the figures and the client City of Tampere and its Tramway Development Programme covered the expenses.

The feedback from the client and the public has been delighted and happy and specially the realistic poses and stylish setting has gained plenty of acknowledgment. Installation was designed to be for two winters but now the client hopes the ‘Tram Travellers’ could be moved along the tramway construction site when the second phase starts in the next few years.

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