I’m a sucker for an installation, especially when it’s immersive. There’s something about being taken away from everyday life and transported into someone else’s world that is thrilling and calming at the same time. So naturally it follows that Sensing Spaces at the Royal Academy is right up my street; I was excited to finally get the chance to throw myself into the environments created by these architects’ heads.
Don’t let the term ‘Architecture’ fool you into thinking this is simply an exhibition about buildings. If anything it’s about the negative spaces around buildings and how we, as humans interact with them. Rather than featuring distant architectural models, you are invited to climb, play and engage with the installations. In doing so, you not only become aware of the details in the pieces themselves, but also of the gallery as a space, noticing the architectural nuances in the existing Royal Academy building, some dating back to the 17th century.
The contrast between these very classical details in the building and the modern materials and forms in the structures (for instance pictured below in the structure by Pezo von Ellrichshausen) only helps to highlight their individual qualities.
Each piece invites you to feel something different as you wander from room to room; the colourful straws incorporated in Diébédo Francis Kéré’s tunnel (below) evoke a feeling of childhood as you play and add to the structure, whereas Grafton Architects’ labyrinth-like structure floats ominously above your head, pressing down as you walk through the shadowy room.
NB. I don’t know this man, but the blue of his trousers just went so well with the straws.
The word Sensing is as important as Spaces in the title of this show – as you really do experience the works more than just through sight. With only a few weeks left, make sure you get to see this exhibition and experience architecture in a different way.