Saturday 1 March 2014

Sensing Spaces - Architecture Reimagined

Sensing Spaces, Architecture Reimagined, Royal Academy of Arts, London.

The aim of this exhibition was to explore the sensory perception of space, its power to shape and even dictate our emotions. To also make us experience the fact that architecture does not act alone, but with whatever is already there.

'Experiencing architecture involves moving within and around it, absorbing its qualities through our bodies and senses. We react, consciously or not, to the characteristics of different materials, vistas, volumes, sounds, spatial relationships and proportions. As well as engaging physically with space, our experience of it is also informed by our memories and habits.

Human responses to architecture range from awe to feelings of comfort, safety, pleasure, excitement or unease. We frequently shape the spaces around us - from making dens as children to placing furniture in a living room. Ultimately, architecture connects us to time, place and people.

This exhibition invites you to explore built space directly. The installations highlight different aspects of architecture - from the manipulation of light, mass and structure to the transformations brought about by use, movement and interaction'.  (from the exhibition organisers).

Blue Pavilion, Pezo von Ellrichhausen, (Chile)

(Untreated pine board)

This massive wooden construction was the first installation we encountered

The four massive columns that rise all the way to the ceiling have a door with a spiral staircase at the base of each

but we chose to walk on the ramp instead, light filtering in between the slats

giving us a chance to look at the cornices on the way up and come face to face with the gilded cherubs
one of the spiral staircases once we reached the top

looking down

and a unique chance to have a close look at the ceiling

Diebedo Francis Kere:
(The installation contains 1,867 uniquely connected honeycomb panels)
'I believe it is important to connect people in the process of building so that they have an investment on what is developed. Through thinking and working together people find that the built object becomes part of a bonding experience'.
Boxes of long, coloured drinking straws are offered, which visitors are invited to insert into the structure wherever they want - an opportunity to interact with the space.
the structure covered almost completely with the straws

Walking through

Children had lots of fun in this exhibition and particularly this installation - straws everywhere

Looking back we were able to get a better view of the whole of the installation


even better now.
Edouardo Souto de Moura (Portugal)
'Space for an architect does not exist, so we design the limits that give the impression of space'.

There were two of these arches

but I only photographed one

looking closer
Kengo Kuma (Japan)
'I always start with something small, breaking down the materials into particles or fragments that can then be recombined into units of the right scale to provide comfort and intimacy'.
 Coming into this room was a nice surprise

it was dark and intimate


the dots of light mesmerising


and then through another curtain and a second room but one with space in the middle so that the lights enclosed us - but I did not take any photographs of the second one.

Through here next

a closer look at the strips of cloth


and we entered a labyrinth of twig screens

first stop a small, sauna-like room

back through the corridors of the maze


another small room

looking in

round and round the labyrinth. White LED light panels on the floor


and we came to an unexpected inner courtyard


crunch, crunch on the rough stone pebbles, an unexpected aural experience after the silence of walking through the labyrinth


the mirrored wall expanding the space, slightly reminiscent of Yayoi Kusama's infinity room


you can look through this window to see your own reflection across the pebbles

kids running around amplifying the sound
Grafton Architects (Ireland)
(Primary materials: light, structure)
'There is a sense of pleasure in moving from darkness to light or vice versa because as human beings we're cyclical. How light reflects and how light is contained is the stuff of architecture'.
 This is the first room, light and airy, planes hanging from the ceiling, seats for contemplation
Followed by a darker room
which did not look much at first,
until I looked up, and then I was completely won over


the shafts of light, the play of light and shadow, were entrancing


and this became my favourite

I stayed here for a long time


looking up - like looking up in Heaven, as one of the reviewers put it

the play of light on the surface

heavenly, indeed.



Having become sensitised to structure and space we noticed two yellow columns as we were leaving

 the last (or first) installation of the show, two yellow columns by Alvaro Siza.


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