Wednesday 23 April 2014

Sensing Spaces - Architecture Reimagined at the Royal Academy

Alvaro Siza in the RA Courtyard

I was lucky enough to get along to the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the RA before it closed.  I wasn't quite sure whether I was going to like it but actually it was hugely enjoyable!  This seemed to me to be about experiencing architecture in a very direct way through the use of light, sound, smell, touch, structure, movement and participation.  Seven architects from around the world were involved.  

Alvaro Siza (Portugal) was represented in the entrance courtyard with columns reflecting the columns on the building.  

Inside Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal) had made casts of two of the archways between the galleries drawing your attention to the differences between them which otherwise might have gone unnoticed. 
Eduardo Souto de Moura's Cast Arch

Eduardo Souto de Moura's Other Cast Arch

Grafton Architects (Ireland) played with light and the contrast between light and dark. 
Grafton Architects from Light


to Dark

Kengo Kuma (Japan) used light and smell in his installation - not so effective for me as I don't have a very good sense of smell.  
Kengo Kuma - Light & Smell

Construction detail

Diebedo Francis Kere (Burkina Faso & Germany) brought colour to the proceedings and an active chance to participate and colour the surroundings while moving through his tunnel.  His was the most crowded part of the exhibition when I was there and the exhibit where people spent the most time as they made their contribution to the piece.  

Diebedo Francis Kere - Outside of Tunnel
Tunnel View
Add your own colour and detail

Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Chile) had constructed an interesting tower accessed via winding staircases or a ramp and from which you could peer out from spyholes at different heights.  This looked the most monumental in structure.  An unexpected benefit was that you could also see the RA's decorative features up close.
Pezo von Ellrichshausen - Tower

Winding staircases emerge at the top of the tower
Tower gives close up views of RA decoration

Finally my favourite was Li Xiaodong (China) who brought a sense of the outside in (wooden walls), added sound (crunching pebbles), space (mirrored wall), light (walkways lit from below) and surprising spaces and lots of texture. 

Li Xiaodong - Wooden passages lit from below

Hidden spaces
Mirrored room - adding space with a mirrored wall + sound with pebbles underfoot
 It was a great exhibition!

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