Sam Jacob takes a geometric acid trip, courtesy of Cecil Balmond’s installations
Cecil Balmond’s Solid Void at Madlener House in Chicago is the second exhibition curated by Sarah Herda, the new director of the Graham Foundation – a grant programme which fosters ‘challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society’. Under Herda, the foundation’s programme seems to be reconnecting with its radical and experimental past.
The Graham’s alumni of fundees is a rich one, and shows like Bernard Rudofsky’s Architecture Without Architects and seminal texts including Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction, Reyner Banham’s The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment and Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York were all supported by the Graham. Solid Void is nothing if not an experiment in the outer reaches of geometry and form, sketching out new spatial potentials.
Inside Madlener House, its Louis Sullivan-esque carved timber panelling, decorative stone and ironwork are addressed by geometries fresh from Balmond’s Arup-based Advanced Geometry Unit. Two breeds of nature-inspired architecture address each other from either side of the 20th century.