SENSING SPACES – Architecture Reimagined

At the Royal Academy

Currently showing in the Main Galleries is an exhibition featuring six very different architects from around the world.  Although diverse, something key unifies them – you get to explore the physical space their exhibits occupy. Hence, firstly the experience is very personal and secondly, you can engage completely with the materials and get a real sense of the functional and visual aspects at play.

The experience for me:
I’m not entirely sure if I approached it the right way, however it felt natural. For there’s something very attractive about heading into a truly old and beautiful building and discovering a truly new and beautiful building in gallery room 2 (Pezo von Ellrichshausen). And more excitedly still, this new building welcomes you to encounter it completely. By climbing up its spiral stairwells, touching its curved pine boards and popping your head over the side to spy all those others down below. You really start to feel that architecture is more than just function. It’s inspiring, thought-provoking, involved and happily not over…as I had 10 more rooms to go.

To room 3 (Eduardo Souto de Moura) – OK it’s sparse, however I think that’s the point, it’s also fabulous to head through an impressively crafted door frame twice.  And also, interesting to consider if the first (the one connected to the building) or the second (Mr Eduardo Souto de Moura contributions – first of two on display) feels more space making or less.

Oh and then there is Room 4 (Kengo Kuma), closely followed by another Room 4? (also Kengo Kuma), which put(s) the smelling senses on alert. Also your cheque book, as you urgently lay mind plans on how you’ll engage the architect to come over to yours and do the same. Whilst also marvelling at the quietness of the ‘pavilion’ even as Mr and Mrs Speak too LOUDLY chat about tripe.

Next stop Room 1 (how did that happen?) and a super interactive construction of plastic and the added bonus of audience participation decorative drinking straws (Diebedo Francis Kere). A particular winner if you are laden by toddlers or an over-enthusiastic male whom can fashion a colourful man from only three different slurping apparatus.

Room 3 – brings back Eduardo Souto de Moura – with his fabulous re-casting (maybe that’s the wrong term…) of the doorway, in very tactile cement that you can’t stop caressing.

Keep on walking – for there is Room 5 and another room 5 (Li Xiaogong) where you can wander, touch and discover in a maze of wood, pebbles and relaxation.

But wait there’s more – for there are the girls from Grafton Architects with Rooms 6 and another Room 6.  These ladies make introducing natural light to your space almost magically, for their design captures it and the mood changes dependent on the angle of the sun.

And finally, a bit that shouldn’t be missed…A mini-movie focusing on the architects, their designs and their inspirations. It brings the whole exhibition together.  You leave satisfied and pleased that the curator didn’t pop this at the beginning.

It’s on until 6 April 2014

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