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Sensing Spaces opens at the Royal Academy

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Alvaro Siza, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Grafton Architects, Kengo Kuma, Li Xiadong, Diébédo Francis Kéré and Pezo von Ellrichshausen have unveiled installations at the Royal Academy’s ‘era-defining’ Senses Spaces exhibition

The architects have created site-specific installations for an exhibition at the central gallery entitled Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined, which explores the sensory aspects of architecture.

Two installations by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma comprise delicate pyramid structures created from bamboo. The bamboo elements were soaked in one of two aromatic liquids (Japanese Cyprus or Tatami) so that each room has a unique scent.

Dublin-based practice Grafton Architects explored light and shade, and the threshold between the two, with two adjoining room installations of suspended forms.

Installation by Grafton Architects. Photo © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014. Photography: James Harris. / © Grafton Architects

Installation by Grafton Architects

Also exploring light in architecture was Chinese architect Li Xiadong, who created a maze of timber frames with a route through the installation to a ‘Zen garden’, with raised LED-lit flooring leading the way.

Chilean practice Pezo von Ellrichshausen created a timber structure comprising an elevated box sitting on four spiral stairwells, providing new views of the largest of the Royal Academy’s galleries.

Installation (Blue Pavilion) by Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Photo © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014. Photography: James Harris. / © Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Installation (Blue Pavilion) by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Diébédo Francis Kéré, who is based between Germany and Burkina Faso, encouraged visitors to physically interact with architecture by creating an intimate shelter composed of honeycomb plastic panels. Coloured straws are provided to be inserted into the structure by visitors, meaning the installation will change form and colour over time.

Installation by Diébédo Francis Kéré. Photo © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014. Photography: James Harris / © Kéré Architecture

Installation by Diébédo Francis Kéré

Installations by Portugeuse architects Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura reference the history of the architecture of the Royal Academy and work in dialogue with each other.

Alvaro Siza’s installation in the courtyard comprises a column lying on the ground with its capital alongside it, another column standing upright, and a third column with its capital mounted on top, referencing the birth of the column and inspired by the façade of Burlington House.

In the main exhibition space, Eduardo Souto de Moura created two stone arches made of pre-cast concrete, exact replicas of the arches between the Royal Academy’s galleries, which draw attention to spaces often overlooked by visitors.

A full review of Sensing Spaces will appear in the AJ and online on 7 February 2014.

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