At the Royal Academy of Arts Burlington Gardens in London, passers-by will encounter An Unexpected Hill, a sculptural installation decked out in inviting shades of blue. The installation by SO? Architecture and Ideas (who previously won the inaugural YAP Istanbul Modern in 2013) was the winner of a competition organized by Turkishceramics and the Royal Academy.
At a time when the Royal Academy's Burlington Gardens campus prepares for refurbishment (which David Chipperfield Architects is designing), competition entrants sent proposals for an urban intervention that responded to the concept of transformation in both a building and a material. SO? Architecture and Ideas scored the commission out of three fellow emerging practices that included OS31, bureau de change, and Scott Whitby Studio.
The jury consisted of Alan Stanton of Stanton Williams Architects; Dr. Peter Oakley from the Royal College of Art; Kate Goodwin from the Royal Academy of Arts; and Bahadir Kayan, Chairman of Turkishceramics.
The installation will be on display until September 20. Check out some photos right below.
"Embracing the unique opportunity to ‘intervene’ with the building before it undergoes major refurbishment, the architects were asked to physically and conceptually transform how it is perceived, questioning its formal arrangement, evoking the legacy of the building's past or perhaps imagining a different future. Following on from the RA’s ‘Meaning in Materials’ event series last autumn, the architects were encouraged to reconsider traditional ceramics."
"The panel was impressed with SO? Architecture and Ideas' Unexpected Hill as a public gesture reaching beyond the building to the surrounding neighbourhood, and its use of ceramics in an unusual and imaginative way."
"The design explores how an intrinsically 2D material, most commonly implemented as a decorative element, can create a 3D structure intended for public use. The Unexpected Hill creates a dialogue with the 19th century façade of Burlington Gardens, transforming a threshold space."
"The geometric forms of Unexpected Hill are inspired by 2D ceramic patterns found in architecture throughout history. Sevince Bayrak, co-founder of SO? Architecture and Ideas, explained: 'We manipulated a geometrical pattern of triangles to create a 3D form.
As an example of using geometry to convert a 2D object into a 3D space, the structural principles of Muqarnas help us create a hill, the highest point of the 3D structure, which will be a tunnel that visitors can pass through.'"
"Muqarnas is a decorative device in traditional Islamic architecture that utilizes ceramics in radial symmetry. The geometric columns will be cladded in an unusual ceramic tile, which is currently the lightest ceramic in the world."
Kate Goodwin, Head of Architecture and Drue Heinz Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, commented: 'SO? Architecture and Ideas' installation is a playful intervention that transforms a currently underutilised space into a much needed place in Mayfair where people can sit and take time out, or explore and come together. Ceramic tiles become form rather than decoration and create a structure which both rises from the ground and sits in dialogue with the 19th century façade of Burlington Gardens. It raises debate about how threshold spaces can be in habited to enliven the streets.'
An Unexpected Hill will also be the stage for an upcoming program of public activities and performances. The program starts off with an interactive wall designed by Tamer Nakışçı, which will spotlight creative exploration of ceramic tiles and geometry inside Burlington Gardens.
More activities and performances will take place on and around the installation at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays on the following dates: July 12, 19, and 26; September 6, 13, and 20.
Find more photos in the thumbnail gallery below.
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