Awesome, Immersive Exhibition Shows How Architecture Can Shape Your Senses

Kengo Kuma created a delicate matrix made from more than 3,000 curved bamboo sticks that spring up from the ground, forming an abstracted pyramid.

By Liz Stinson

Buildings have the unfortunate fate of being taken advantage of. Architecture is about form, sure, but in our day-to-day lives, we mostly appreciate it for its functionality. “We use spaces to work, to live, to shop, and we don’t often think about actually being in a building,” says Kate Goodwin.

Goodwin is the curator of Sensing Spaces, a newly opened exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London that looks at architecture through the array of human senses. Goodwin tapped seven architects from around the world to create multi-sensory spaces within the gallery that would challenge visitors to really experience architecture instead of passively taking it in.

The Royal Academy gave the architects free reign over 23,000 square feet with no directive other than to create immersive architectural experiences. Each approached the task differently, but each installation provokes certain senses. Chinese architect Li Xiaodong, for example, built a maze made from more than 21,000 hazel sticks. Visitors are guided through the structure by illuminated floors that are meant to evoke a snowy path on a winter night.

Japanese designer Kengo Kuma created a delicate matrix made from more than 3,000 curved bamboo sticks that spring up from the ground forming an abstracted pyramid. Each piece was soaked in the scent of Japanese cedar wood to enhance the experience. It’s a look at how a minimal amount of material can still have a maximum effect, if employed correctly.

Another piece, by Chilean duo Pezo von Ellrichshausen is a monumental wooden structure that, from the outside, appears to be a quite plain box on top of four cylinders. But behind the wood are four spiral staircases that lead visitors six meters up to the canopy of the museum, where they can closely observe (probably for the first time ever) the intricate gold detailing of the gallery’s ceiling. “It’s about taking you to another world,” says Goodwin. “You really get to experience a gallery that we never get to see normally.”…



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