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FIRST LOOK

Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Hall for Hull opens

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Sixteen galvanised steel columns have created a new ‘room’ for the city

A Hall for Hull with ‘Trois Points de Vue’ – a joint commission by the RIBA and Hull UK City of Culture 2017 – has been unveiled to the public. The monumental temporary installation has transformed Trinity Square with 16 galvanised steel columns arranged in a grid formation in front of Hull Minster to form a new outdoor ‘room’ for the city.

Chilean practice Pezo von Ellrichshausen has collaborated with Swiss artist Felice Varini to create the structure, which responds to the historic heart of Hull and will remain in place until 11 November. It has been commissioned to encourage local people to see their city in new and memorable ways, and to become a focal point for tourists.

9 a hall for hull photo by anna gowthorpe

9 a hall for hull photo by anna gowthorpe

Source: Anna Gowthorpe

Perforations across the columns’ frosted-like steel skin create a play of light and shadow across the interiors of each inhabited space. These optical effects continue with the artwork applied by Varini. Through his practice of op-art, Varini has created three hand-drawn, delicate artworks across the columns that distort and redefine the otherwise rigid geometry of their solid arrangement, challenging perceptions of perspective and scale in this particular public setting. Each artwork aligns from a different viewpoint across Trinity Square, encouraging visitors to meander through the set of columns, leaving the view of the central axis of the church’s nave untouched.

While the Grade I-listed minster is undergoing extensive renovation work, A Hall for Hull will be used by the church to host performances, but the hall is designed with the hope that residents and community groups will activate the space for multiple purposes beyond the imagination of the artists. The steel was galvanised by Hull company Wedge Group, ensuring the local community is involved in a variety of different ways.

The project, supported by the British Council, was developed through an invited competition for an architectural and artistic collaboration, with a brief to create a temporary intervention designed specifically for the square. Hull 2017 and the RIBA have been working closely with Hull Minster to develop the project. Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Varini were chosen from a pool of 18 emerging and established architects practising in the UK and internationally.

Trinity Square has benefited from Hull City Council’s £25 million public realm improvements programme, and this latest transformation will build on the drive to bring new life to this historic part of the city. A Hall for Hull is part of ‘Look Up’, a Hull 2017-curated programme of temporary installations in public places and spaces around the city.

Pve hull paint 01

Pve hull paint 01

Source: Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Architect’s view

This installation forms a temporary hypostyle room without a roof, with massive but almost immaterial columns barely open to the sky and to the immediate surroundings. The empty stone-paved square is challenged by the size and disposition of a regular open grid and each column (two metres wide and six metres high) is in fact an inhabitable room with a single entrance pointed to a different direction. The silent vibration of glimmering lights and shadows, together with the very indifference of the grid, is altered by three delicate motives drawn in the air by Felice Varini, which can only be seen towards precise vanishing points.

Mauricio Pezo & Sofia von Ellrichshausen 

Pve hull paint 02

Pve hull paint 02

Source: Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Client’s view

Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Felice Varini have developed an exceptional proposal: one where Varini’s abstracted art applied to architectural space aligns with Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s practice of monumental architecture - carefully considered to the scale of Hull Minster and its surrounding square. A Hall for Hull effortlessly fulfils the commission’s aim to push the boundaries of how we observe art, architecture and public spaces and to facilitate unique experiences for residents and newcomers to the city. I look forward to seeing this installation unfold in-situ as the RIBA takes its programme outside its dedicated gallery spaces in London and Liverpool.

Marie Bak Mortensen, head of exhibitions, RIBA

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