Themes/ People and Places: Architecture as a way of seeing

Architecture is more than just shorthand for the word ‘buildings’. What transforms it from just a collection of hard surfaces is not just its function, but often the designer’s imagination.

Architecture can be fleeting or it can last in the world for decades or centuries at a time. It’s often suggested that we would have a much stronger design culture in our society if architectural design were easier to understand. It’s a profession that often seems obscure and remote to the general public.

Here are some creatively fertile ways to think about designing and interpreting architecture. These examples show you that artists are equally capable of creating interesting architectural proposals.

Take notice of how important the users/owners are in all of these designs for different places.

Featured image: Body experience diagrams for Kroppsrom (Corporeal Room), 2013, Atelier Oslo.

Shelter / enclosure: Fog assembly

Credit: ‘Fog assembly’, 2016. Steel, water, nozzles, pump system, 4.5 m x 29 m, Palace of Versailles, 2016. Photograph, Anders Sune Berg, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York © Olafur Eliasson.

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is arguably most famous for ‘The weather project’ (2003), devised for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. The installation consisted of a semi-circular screen, a ceiling of mirrors and artificial mist to create the illusion of a sun. Fog assembly (2016), introduced above, is another work in his collection of sculptures and installations that draws us into his obsession with all things elemental – water, light and temperature. The idea is simple – to experience Eliasson’s recreation of foggy mist as it changes through interaction with the sun and wind.

‘Fog assembly’ was one of a series of five artworks Eliasson exhibited at the Palace of Versailles, France in 2016.

Find out more on Studio Olafur Eliasson’s webpage

Whilst you’re visiting Studio Olafur Eliasson, find out more about ‘The weather project’

Public vs. Private: House NA

two images of interior architecture.

Credit: ‘House NA’ Sou Fujimoto Architects, Photograph, Iwan Bann.

Architect Sou Fujimoto’s ‘Na House’ has no conventional stairs or solid walls. Its design is inspired by a tree, taking reference from the way Japan’s ancient ancestors lived in trees. The architects wanted to create a design that mixed nature with the artificial materials of a contemporary building. Only essential furnishings exist. Horizontal staggered levels can be used as desks, somewhere to sit or sleep. The spaces feel like a set of flexible furniture pieces designed to the scale of its users.

This project was part of a recent exhibition at the Barbican.

Take a look at their ‘Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945’ pinboard for more inspiration.

Scale / Landscape: Kroppsrom (Corporeal room)

Credit: Timelapse showing ‘Kroppsrom’ (Corporeal Room) being installed. Video courtesy of the National Museum of Architecture, Norway 2013, Atelier Oslo.

Architecture studio Atelier Oslo created ‘Krosppsrom’ as a ‘kit of parts’- a puzzle that they put together for the ‘Under 40’ Exhibition. Once inside the pavilion each bend, step and curve asks you to move your body in a different way, meaning you really get to know the scale of the room versus your body. You can see this illustrated in their drawings in the feature image to this article. Like taking a walk in the woods, the architects created hidden spots and places with pools of light to encourage visitors to explore and experience the room.”]

Step inside the installation with another video filmed during the ‘Under 40’ Exhibition at the National Museum of Architecture, Norway.

The talk is in Norwegian, but you’ll get plenty of inspiration from the visuals as the camera journeys through the space.

Technology: Nature Trail

Credit: ‘Nature Trail’, Jason Bruges Studio, 2012.

Jason Bruges Studio is an established design studio that works with light and technology to create playful and interactive artworks. Their work could be described as public art as they generally design installations for parks, streets and public buildings. ‘Nature Trail’ is digital wallpaper created for Great Ormond Street Hospital to help calm and distract children as they make their way to the anaesthetic room. As you move past, different animals made up of LED lights appear and follow you along the trail.

Explore more of Jason Bruges Studio’s innovative work via Dezeen’s article

Or skip straight to Dezeen’s video filmed at ‘Designed in Hackney Day’ where Jason talks about more of the studio’s projects.

Representation / Space and the human figure: Held

Credit: ‘Held’ 23 February, craft paper 11x3m, Du Bois in our Time at UMCA (University Museum of Contemporary Art), UMASS (University of Massachusetts), 2013. Photograph courtesy of Stephen Petegorsky and the artist.

Artist Mary Evans creates large-scale flat installations. She uses brown paper to create cut-out silhouettes that takeover galleries and public spaces. They reflect on the impact of tragic and brutal moments in history that are unfortunately increasingly relevant to events in today’s world. Have a look at more of her artworks and you’ll see that her work is a take on traditional techniques of portraiture as well as cultural and popular culture motifs. She’s re-working these approaches to talk about important issues of representation, cultural change, migration and globalization.

Explore more of Mary Evan’s work on her website

Light / Movement / Film: Our Time

Credit: ‘Our Time’, 2014, Video, courtesy of United Artists.

United Visual Artists are all about our perceptions, and senses. Through their architectural installations they want us to get in touch with what it means to be human. In ‘Our Time’ lights swing at different paces across a darkened room like pendulums with an accompanying soundtrack. Even on video, you’re drawn into the artwork. Imagine experiencing it for real. You’d be at the centre of this artwork about the passing of time, not quite knowing where the space ends and where it begins but getting some clues from the movement, sound and light the artists use to such a powerful effect.”

Explore more of United Visual Artists work on their website

David is founder of ArchitectureDoingPlace

He’s recently been appointed as one of the Mayor’s Design Advocates. Read more about this news on Dezeen’s website

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