Sensing Spaces – Royal Academy Exhibition

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined, London

Various Architects

25 January — 6 April 2014

The Royal Academy in Piccadilly, London invited seven architects from four continents to create architectural works exploring the theme of the senses and their relation to space making. The exhibition occupies the large galleries within the RA, each architect interpreting the brief in a way that reflected their interests in sensory space. The result is a collection of installations that are linked by the guiding theme but interpreted in a diverse way.

The exhibition seeks to challenge a certain perception of architecture as predominantly a visual art, instead focusing on other qualities space could offer. Each architect was given a separate room (or two) to show their studio’s idea. To exhibit a quality in architecture that could perhaps heighten the sense of sound, texture, or atmosphere. It seemed almost contradictory to hold an exhibition focusing on other senses than the visual in an Art Gallery, although of course art is engaging it is often displayed delicately and preciously, this exhibition really offered you a chance to get up close and personal; actively encouraging visitors to inhabit, play or experience the range of spaces.

There was a danger that the exhibition could have played out with tempers high and egos flaring as the practices fight it out in a prestigious setting. Despite the fact that each practice no-doubt will have been trying to demonstrate their deeper thinking on the subject, the exhibition remarkably has a coherence. This is in part down to the nature in which it is curated, the central octagonal space of the RA offers options of exploration through the galleries from the first moment with only hints to the route you might possibly take first. Clever sequences of light and dark spaces help keep the architecture from being in contention with it’s neighbour and Portugese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura in particular attempts to unite the spaces with the openings between the gallery spaces echoed in casts and reconfigured. In this way the gallery offers up intrigue like Alice Through the Looking Glass, you enter each new space in expectation of a new spectacle.

Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Chile

Grafton Architects, Ireland

Diébédo Francis Kéré, Burkina Faso

Li Xiaodong, China

The Exhibition also included the works of:

Eduardo Souto de Moura
Álvaro Siza
Kengo Kuma

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