I visited the exhibition Sensing Spaces at the Royal Academy. The task set by Sensing Spaces was ‘Architecture Reimagined’ – something far from simple. It evoked the experience and power of architecture within a traditional gallery environment. Usually exhibitions of architechture consist of drawings of buildings, models and plans. However this ‘Sensing Spaces’ did something entierly different, and brought these plans and drawings, and the essence of architecture to life. It asked the question whether an exhibition could become the means to highlight not just the functional or purely visual aspects of architecture but also the sensation of inhabiting space. It created an environment which encouraged viwers to question their ideas about architecture and allow it to move them. Buildings are every present in our lives and we often forget or oversee the emotional impact they have on us and our imagenations. This exhibtion helps us recognise that much of the richness of architecture comes from the multifaceted way our senses respond to it.
‘I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it‘ Igor Stravinsky
The physical exploration of space that this exhibition allows for stays true to the experience of architecture. We often have a visceral response to the built environment, percieved through the body and senses before it is rationalised by the mind. ‘This response cannot be captured through a magazine cover or a single photographic image or text; we encounter a building in its setting, we move through it, we feel it, we inhabit it, alone or with others’.
The heart of this exhibition was the interaction between three factors: the nature of physical spaces, our perception of them, and their evocative power.
Seven architects from around the world were invited to use the Royal Academy to ‘test themselves and their discipline, to create unique spaces for an audience to experience.’ They were specifically chosen because they distinctly engage with the ways architecture might move beyond practical and functional concerns to address the human spirit. They are Grafton Architects (Ireland), Diebedo Francis Kere (Germany), Kengo Kuma (Japan), Li Xiaodong (China), Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Chile), and Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto do Moura (Portugal).
‘A definition may be very exact, and yet go but a very little way towards informing us of the nature of the thing defined’
Edmund Burke, ‘An Introduction on Taste’ in ‘A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful’ 1759
This exhibition definitely heightened my attention to the here and now, and sharpened my appreciation of my surroundings.