STATUS Commission, Built
LOCATION London, UK
CLIENT Architectural Association
COLLABORATORS Corus Colorcoat (Sponsor), Hotel Puerta America (Sponsor), Douglas Spencer (Video projections), Desktop Engineering (Software Consultant), Quality Components UK LTD (Laser Cutting)
PUBLICATIONS BD Online
Positioned at the intersection between the most advanced and radical academic experiments in the same building and the grandness, history of its Georgian architecture and location in Bedford Square, the Architectural Association Gallery became an ideal location for contextualizing new parametric design and fabrication methods and evoking an intense spatial experience.
From grafting a part of the lobby of Hotel Puerta America into this host space and then growing the tissue to tie into the existing classical Georgian organisation, the new compound ties closely into the fabric of the gallery.
At the same time the inserted space becomes a sublime encounter as artificial cave. A single surface drapes the entire space- it morphs from a box shaped section that describes the windows to Bedford Square to the interior cocoon that has been transposed in its original geometry from Hotel Puerta America.
The project discusses through real physical experience how we read, interpret and occupy space. Since no semantic clues are given as to where to walk, sit or look at (floor, walls and 'seats' are seamless), ,It needs to be 'conquered' and creatively claimed by everyone in a personal way.
'The brain is a biological forecasting machine. It follows that its pleasure consists in taking gambles. And it can only gamble on a reality in motion, ever changing. Shape, even motionless shape, is an opportunity for mind shifts, for imaginative changes in direction, which criminal architects would prevent us from enjoying.' Alain Berthoz
Without an established micro-identity to call on, perception is thrown into an intensive response to raw sensory stimulus. Poised on the threshold of the corridor we hesitate as we project a future path through this space and anticipate its outcome. The unfamiliar presents itself as both a threat and an opportunity on this first encounter. If we cross the threshold into this space we then open ourselves to the pleasures of the ‘mind shifts' and ‘imaginative changes in direction' that it offers. We begin to self-shape those sensorimotor patterns and micro-identities that allow us to respond to the space's rhythms, repetitions and reversals. Gradually, through the criss-cross of brain, body and environment, we establish a meshwork that joins neural and architectural topologies within a singular kinaesthetic dimension; resistance breaks down as experience opens up.
WRITTEN BY DOUGLAS SPENCER