Welcome to Space in-between
London Festival of Architecture
Space in-between is an online exhibition that examines the use of life-size architectural representations, projections and simulations as tools for public debate and architectural design. We find them within the public space of various cities in transformation, since they are used to announce and debate future developments on-site.
Although these simulations represent the future, they have a material presence that makes the prospective transformation tangible within the present. Nonetheless, such models are necessarily also abstractions, fragmentary representations that depict only one particular aspect of a future building. As such, they rely on our imagination and our specific physical experience to complete the picture. This generates a more ambiguous and subjective space of potentiality in the borderlands between present and future.
The exhibitions shows a selection of work in different formats, such as drawings, collages and models, that we used to explore this ‘space in-between’ and question how the fine balance between abstraction and detail – demonstration and imagination – frames the range of interpretations and either limits or facilitates a room for dialogue. Each chapter is accompanied by our vocabulary of topics, actions and main questions, to guide you through the exhibition.
By opening up new imaginative spaces, we examine the use of these life-size architectural simulations as tools for architectural design, and draw attention to the importance of physical experience and imagination in this process. The use and combination of these tools offers possibilities to imagine and test a future building in relation to the present surroundings. Using them in a much earlier stage of the process, to debate, collectively imagine and design, can turn them into better tools for architects, city planners, developers and citizens.
The exhibition results from and builds on a one-year residency in Zürich in 2019, where we were invited, by Kulturfolger Gallery, to develop our research project ‘Evidence of the absent’.
We hope you enjoy the exhibition! Alexandra & Caterina
an urban scenography
in-between representation and actuality
These real-size simulations are, for a temporary moment, part of the urban landscape of our cities, as ‘surrogate buildings’ that fade the border between representation and actuality. Although they represent the future, they have a material presence that makes the prospective transformation tangible within the present. Future and present coincide in an urban scenography and give rise to an experiential dimension of architecture where the proposed buildings and their impact on the existing context become imaginable and experienceable.
Releasing the expectation of permanence, the use of ephemeral structures allows an architecture of interpretation and adaptability, opening up other modes of engagement.
Can we through interpreting these 1:1 simulations, understand what is planned, and how the transformation will affect the present context?
the desire of the model
in-between instrument, fragment and temporary sculpture
These life-size simulations are models, that claim a certain autonomous objecthood in the city, yet their condition is incomplete. Models are necessarily also abstractions, fragmentary representations that depict only one particular aspect of a future building. The desire of a model is to act as the representation of another object, a surrogate which allows for imaginative occupation. As such, they rely on our imagination and specific physical experience to complete the picture. Both imagination and visual perception are similary close to each other and, probably, experientially equally real.
baugespann and mock-up
baugespann and mock-up
in-between visible and invisible, partially present on-site
The exhibition adresses two specific architectural simulation types, the swiss methods ‘baugespann’ and ‘mock-up’. As opposed to billboards with renderings and printed facade textiles, that we also find within the city in transformation, the methods of baugespann and mock-up are characterized by a three-dimensional approach. A mock-up meticulously tests material details of construction; a baugespann marks the corners of a future development through thin aluminum poles, that either touch the ground or that are placed on top of existing buildings.
Such simulations are necessarily also abstractions and fragmentary representations that depict only one particular aspect of a future building. As such, they rely on our imagination and our specific physical experience to complete the picture. This generates a more ambiguous and subjective space of potentiality in the borderlands between present and future.
In the case of Baugespann, this almost ‘invisible’ outline of the future development leaves space to imagine not only the future volume that it represents, but also matters of light, shadows, density and transparency. It temporary transforms the site; it constructs a context in which we are open to imagine and create multiple interpretations of what is to come. In certain cases, there are still buildings present, wherethrough future and present coincide, or collide. The relation of this new building within its surroundings, thereupon, can be thought of as well.
Where is the fine balance between abstraction and detail – demonstration and imagination? How much insight do we need in the abstract representation to complete the picture? How much can we abstract from the context?
in-between experience, perception and imagination
“The experienced and imagined are qualitatively equal experiences in our consciousness; we may be equally moved by something evoked by the imagined as by the actually encountered.”
Fragmentary architectural representations rely on our imagination and our specific physical experience to complete the picture. The real scale 1:1 allows for a more real-time and in the moment experience of the given information and at the same time, offers space for interpretation.
The residency became a place for us to work and experiment - inside the gallery as well as outside in the city. Alongside, it was a context for us to share our work and include other voices, a place to extend our dialogue to the public and raise awareness on the importance of engaging with the transformation of our cities.
We started with on-site explorations, where we took the the existing context into account. We used different performative formats, ranging from choreography and sound recordings, that we translated into maps. We gradually shifted the on-site explorations to more abstract and autonomous interpretations, combining drawings, collages and models.
in-between performance and architecture
Action I: Printed textiles - cut add play
We printed fragments of mock-ups in 1:1 on textile panels and took them into the public space, to open up a dialogue with citizens and to experiment with the relation between the object and context.
Action II: Choreography - marking transformation
We invited different guests from various disciplines to contribute to and expand the research through their specific approach. London based dancer Emma Hoette and Zürich based musicians Ramon Landolt and David Meier were invited to come with us on-site and a create a new, exclusive interpretation on the potential of ‘the empty space’ of a Baugespann.
Emma performed live on site and in the gallery and together we created a video of the live performance on-site. Afterwards we interviewed her about the experience.
How can movement help us to better understand the scale 1:1 on-site?
Action III: Sound recording - the sound of transformation
Ramon and David created a sound installation piece, based on site-specific field recordings. They performed this piece in the gallery, and recorded it on their new album that they are currently mixing and working on (estimated release, Jan 2021).
Can we make the prospective transformation more experienceable through sound?
Action IV: Drawings on-site - interpretations with context
‘Drawings on-site’ is a collection of interpretations in form of drawings, collages and ‘walking maps’ to create a subjective space of potentiality, in the borderlands between present and future. The interpretations are based on abstractions in different categories: lines, surfaces, shadows, colors, volumes. Abstraction allows us to focus on specific aspects, such as rythm, composition and proportion.
Connecting, coinciding, overlapping and colliding were the actions and criteria that we used in the first set of interpretations, to establish new relationships between the projective object and the existing context, between present and future.
Action V: Drawings on-site - interpretations without context
The second set of interpretations is developed without taking the existing context into account. Having no longer a connection to the original site, we can more freely explore concepts of completing, extending, compressing, cutting and adding, with a white canvas as the new surrounding.
Action VI: Fill the void / Empty the mass
Using only the actions of removing and adding, the third set of drawings imagines a new volume within a given contour. Fill the void - empty the mass: the whole should at any time remain recognisable.
Animation of 50 drawings resulting in a publication ‘imagine the volume’, 2019.
By opening up new imaginative spaces, we examine the use of these life-size architectural simulations as tools for architectural design, and draw attention to the importance of physical experience and imagination in architecture.
The use and combination of characteristics of these tools offers possibilities to imagine and test a future building in relation to the present surroundings. Using them in a much earlier stage of the process to debate, collectively imagine and design, can turn them into better tools for architects, city planners, developers and citizens.
new tools for architectural design
by merging elements, characteristics and actions
new modes for public engagement
a room for critical thinking and dialogue
Our capacity to imagine, and to fuse it with experience and memory, that is our mental world, defines the space we live in. Existential (mental) space is a unique experience interpreted through the memory and experience of the individual. When there is too much space for interpretation - the space in-between gets filled up with individual experiences and interpretations - while the opportunity of architectural simulations that are constructed in the real scale and within the context of the city, create the perfect ground for a collective experience.
How can the fine balance between abstraction and detail – demonstration and imagination – frame the range of interpretations and either limit or facilitate a room for dialogue?
Round table - June 19. 4PM London time - During the round table we will present the exhibition and unpack the main questions and themes in a curated, intimate setting. Everybody is very welcome to join the session on Zoom. Just send us an email and we send you the details. Feel free to send in questions and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Kulturfolger Zürich, Emma Hoette, Ramon Landolt, David Meier, Noortje de Leij and London Festival of Architecture