Seven Architects Transform London’s RA into Multi-Sensory Experience

This past week London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA) celebrated the opening of, what many claim to be, one of the most “epic” and “enchanting” exhibitions of 2014: Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined. With a series of large scale installations by some of profession’s most acclaimed architects, such as Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Kengo Kuma, the immersive exhibition creates an atmosphere that encourages visitors to become part of the experience and open their minds to the sensory realm of architecture.

"Architecture is so often the background to our lives," stated curator Kate Goodwin. "We often don't think about it - it's practical and functional, but when does it do something more?"

A preview of the installations, after the break.

Installation by Li Xiaodong © Benedict Johnson

Each installation evokes emotions and experiences that are wildly different than its neighbor. Works range from Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Chilean Pine towers that offer unexpected views of the historic Burlington House’s largest gallery, to Li Xiaodong’s “timber maze” that aims to awaken memories of walking through a forest of white, and Diébédo Francis Kéré interactive tunnel made of plastic honeycomb panels that invites visitors to play “as a child would” by weaving colorful straws throughout the structure. 

Installation by Diebedo Francis Kere. © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014. Photography: James Harris © Kere Architecture

"Because this was a very conceptual exhibit, it was hard to assess it till this morning. It was essentially six building sites, and the team was working even last night to complete it,” described Chief executive of the Academy Charles Saumarez Smith at the press opening. “But I feel it is very exciting because it's about the present and the future, not just the past. It represents a shift away from postwar modern architecture where it was about problem solving, to thinking about architecture in terms of experience, material, light and space. It's about the possibilities of architecture to create imaginative experiences."

Installation by Kengo Kuma. © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014. Photography: James Harris

Other works include Kengo Kuma’s delicate forest of rippling bamboo sticks scented in an aroma reminiscent of an aging temple; Grafton Architects transformative, sculptural ceiling illuminated by variations of light and darkness; and Eduardo Souto de Moura’s concrete, offset replica of RA’s entrance doors.

Visit the RA’s website to learn how you can experience the exhibition yourself. Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined will remain on view through April 6, 2014.

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

References: RA, Wallpaper, Wired

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Cite: "Seven Architects Transform London’s RA into Multi-Sensory Experience" 03 Feb 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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