Manual labour and crafts were among the themes tackled in yesterday's post and at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale there are quite a few hand-built structures, going from practical and functional buildings to the futuristic and abstract constructions. Among them there is also the cloud-shaped fibre cement building that visitors will discover inside the Sala di Pittura at the Swiss Pavilion.
After removing their shoes, visitors can enter into the cave-like bowels of this rather bizarre structure that plays with the perceptions of scale, solid and void, looking as if it were extending and exploding in all directions.
This structure by architect Christian Kerez actually combines craftsmanship with digital processes, presenting new technological possibilities in architecture that bridge the gap between abstract and complex space while challenging concepts of form finding and reminding us that too many times the creativity of architects is reined in by burden of rules and regulations.
The point of this installation - developed in collaboration with various research teams from ETH Zurich, entitled "Incidental Space" and curated by art historian Sandra Oehy - is indeed exploring the outer limits of what is possible in architecture while questioning thought patterns and self-imposed limits. Kerez also employs the medium of architecture to contemplate an architectural space that is entirely abstract and as complex as possible.
This free formed space corresponds in no way to what architecture has hitherto considered to be a proper architectural space and exists as an aggregation of shapes and data.
A monumental wallpaper in the Sala di Scultura displays renderings of the digital scan for the space with corresponding photographic details of the physical model as wallpapers.
The structure was developed after manipulating over three hundred small models - none measuring more than 40 x 25 x 15 cm - made with wax, sugar, sand and sawdust.
After casting them in plaster, the models were split open and their complex internal cavities were exposed. The model chosen for the exhibition had to be gradually broken into pieces during the process of optical and tomographical scanning.
The resulting digital surface was segmented into different areas, so that a positive physical form of the space could be manufactured industrially. Depending on the specific surface and textures of the area in question, this was either done additively, using a 3D printer that deposited layers of furan sand to create complex forms, or the process was subtractive by means of CNC milling of foam blocks.
Determing the load-bearing behaviour of the shell was rather difficult since this is a free form reinforced concrete shell, so that internal forces and systemic behaviour had to be studied in-depth .
Kerez explains that the beauty of the models that appeared when the casts were sawn open came from the complete correspondence between their spatial form and their surface texture, or rather from the correspondence between structure and ornament.
"What led us to our experimental design, and to the name 'Incidental Space', was a desire to represent a specific event, one neither predictable nor calculable, but not at all random," Kerez states.
"Incidental Space" aims to create an architectural object with aesthetic and formal qualities that is simultaneously an exhibition project to be experienced in person. At the same time, the project employs the medium of the architectural exhibition as a method of inquiry and a basis for fundamental research, showing that interdisciplinary collaboration among architects, engineers, art experts, and specialists in digital production can lead to visually intriguing spatial studies.
Image credits for this post
1. Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition, Photo by Keystone/Gaëtan Bally
2. Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition, Photo by Oliver Dubuis
7, 8, 9. Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition, Photo by Oliver Dubuis
11. Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, 2015, Photography, Photographer: Oliver Dubuis © Christian Kerez
12. Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition, Photo by Keystone/Gaëtan Bally
13. Curator Sandra Oehy and architect Christian Kerez at Incidental Space, Photo by Keystone/Gaëtan Bally
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