EX­PANDED SKINS AND THE AR­CHI­TEC­TURE OF ‘THICK DE­SCRIP­TIONS’

Domus - - PROJECTS - Kai­wan Mehta

What does an ar­chi­tect from Mum­bai take with him to Basel? As pointed as this ques­tion is, the broader con­cern is we are lo­cated in a world that is global and ex­pan­sive, yet rooted to lo­ca­tions, ge­ogra­phies, and ideas in some ways. We no longer can talk of the Global and Lo­cal as bi­na­ries or as terms that be­gin with a let­ter in the up­per-case; these are con­di­tions of be­ing and ex­ist­ing with many over­laps and ex­changes. A prac­tice like that of Rahul Mehro­tra’s is an in­ter­est­ing case in point since not only is his early ca­reer based in the com­plex­i­ties and con­tra­dic­tions of a city like Bom­bay of the 1990s, but he is some­one who, for long, holds an aca­demic po­si­tion and runs stu­dios in an Amer­i­can univer­sity, but has also built in lo­ca­tions out­side Bom­bay/Mum­bai, out­side In­dia. Where does then a stu­dio like RMA draw its ref­er­ences from, and how does it re­spond to the many lo­ca­tions it thinks from? It is beau­ti­ful that an in­tel­lec­tual, a prac­ti­tioner, can ac­tu­ally hold the abil­ity to think from many lo­ca­tions and mul­ti­ple sources in a world where con­ser­vatism and nar­row think­ing is tak­ing over.

Hav­ing opened up this ques­tion of draw­ing from mul­ti­ple sources and build­ing in­spi­ra­tions from a car­pet of ex­pe­ri­ences, it would be im­por­tant to un­der­stand a key strand that may be weav­ing these mul­ti­ple imag­i­na­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences into a com­pre­hen­si­ble pat­tern of de­signs and ar­chi­tec­tural ar­tic­u­la­tions. The Vir­chow 16 build­ing on the No­var­tis cam­pus in Basel is a good ex­am­ple to take some of these thoughts fur­ther.

Retro Geiser in his es­say Soft Thresh­olds pub­lished in the book on this build­ing be­gins his de­scrip­tion and dis­cus­sion on the build­ing thus: “The project [the No­var­tis cam­pus in Basel] is shaped by Vittorio Mag­nago Lam­pug­nani’s strict mas­ter plan — the newly es­tab­lished ur­ban grid, the con­sis­tent block size, ar­cades along the main axis, and a shared height of the eaves — which, over the last decade, con­tin­u­ously ruled the trans­for­ma­tion of a for­mer in­dus­trial site into an ur­ban en­sem­ble. Vir­chow 16, as RMA’s build­ing is of­fi­cially named, marks the north-east­ern edge of the cam­pus, fac­ing the river­front. At the mo­ment of its com­ple­tion, the struc­ture con­sist­ing of lab­o­ra­to­ries and of­fices is stand­ing with­out its pro­jected con­text in an area that still lacks def­i­ni­tion and will likely be de­vel­oped in later phases of the cam­pus con­struc­tion ... ... The north­ern and south­ern façades of the build­ing, which will even­tu­ally face its fu­ture neigh­bours on

cam­pus, con­sist of solid con­crete walls — dyed in yel­low ochre by ad­ding stone from lo­cal quar­ries — in­ter­rupted by two glazed seg­ments. The mono­lithic, en­closed char­ac­ter of both ex­posed el­e­va­tions pro­vides a de­gree of pri­vacy for the ad­ja­cent workspaces, but more im­por­tantly de­fines the con­tin­u­a­tion of the streetscape and, in­side, al­lows for a dis­trib­uted place­ment of small cir­cu­la­tory and me­chan­i­cal cores that de­ci­sively shape the or­gan­i­sa­tion of the plan. The east­ern el­e­va­tion is fully glazed to cre­ate a sense of breadth and to pro­vide un­ob­structed views of the Rhine. And fi­nally, the western and most pub­lic face of the build­ing is lo­cated ad­ja­cent to the small square. Wrapped in a green façade that will change its ap­pear­ance through­out the year, it me­di­ates be­tween open space and a highly con­trolled lab­o­ra­tory and of­fice en­vi­ron­ment. Pierced by six large-scale win­dows, the façade sug­gests a ver­ti­cal con­tin­u­a­tion of the gar­den and soft­ens the thresh­old be­tween pub­lic and en­closed spa­ces. The de­sign of the green wall un­doubt­edly prof­ited from the in­sight gained through pre­vi­ous com­mis­sions RMA re­al­ized in In­dia. It draws par­tic­u­larly from the KMC Cor­po­ra­tion Of­fice in Hyderabad, which em­pha­sises the con­tin­u­ing rel­e­vance of tra­di­tional cool­ing de­vices such as hu­mid­i­fied sur­faces or a façade screen made of hy­dro­ponic, climb­ing plants. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with land­scape ar­chi­tect Gün­ther Vogt, Mehro­tra per­fected the sys­tem of the dou­ble skin as a sea­son­ally chang­ing, per­for­ma­tive ‘liv­ing cur­tain wall’ that mod­u­lates day­light and pro­vides a nat­u­ral screen.

At first glance, it might seem as if this layer of green­ery was only ap­plied to the ex­te­rior of the build­ing. How­ever, a closer look at the

sec­tion of the project re­veals that the ver­ti­cal gar­den of the façade fur­ther de­vel­ops in­side the project and op­er­ates as con­nect­ing tis­sue that blurs the bound­aries be­tween na­ture and ab­strac­tion, be­tween in­te­rior and ex­te­rior, be­tween cir­cu­la­tion and gath­er­ing spa­ces, of­fices, and lab­o­ra­to­ries. Rem­i­nis­cent of the ter­raced court at the base of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo’s Ford Foun­da­tion Build­ing in New York (1967) and laced with paths and places to pause and in­for­mally gather, an in­te­rior court­yard stretches from the fourth level to the roof. Sim­i­lar to the atrium, but more ex­pan­sive in its im­pact and com­plex in its spa­tial char­ac­ter, this con­cen­tra­tion of ver­dant trop­i­cal growth — an in­te­rior, hang­ing gar­den — con­nects di­verse parts of the build­ing and pro­vides not only the of­fice floors, but also the fully en­closed lab en­vi­ron­ments with frag­ments of a sur­pris­ing sim­u­la­tion of na­ture. A cu­ri­ous mix­ture be­tween the po­et­ics of Os­car Niemeyer’s Casa das Canos (1951) and John Port­man’s Bon­aven­ture Ho­tel (1976) atrium, in which “cap­i­tal — and power — be­gins to look friendly and warm, and nat­u­ral,” Mehro­tra of­fers an in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment that has the ca­pac­ity to join what or­di­nar­ily re­mains sep­a­rate.”

Geiser es­tab­lishes well the in­ter­lock­ing spheres of ac­tion and in­flu­ence this project is shaped by — the site; Mehro­tra’s own ex­per­i­ments as a con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tect from In­dia; and the ar­chi­tec­tural themes that con­cern our fields of prac­tice today. The ar­chi­tect then — in this case, Mehro­tra — clearly be­comes the su­trad­har, the key nar­ra­tor who weaves many sto­ries into an ar­chi­tec­tural script.

The build­ing sits within a cam­pus where ear­lier in­ter­ven­tions by iconic ar­chi­tects from dif­fer­ent parts of the world have gen­er­ated a con­text; at the same time Vir­chow 16 is in a zone that is yet to de­velop. Mehro­tra has be con­scious that he will also gen­er­ate the con­text for fu­ture re­sponses. The build­ing by Mehro­tra opens up the con­ver­sa­tion on Con­text rather than tak­ing a po­si­tion of one or an­other kind of re­sponse. The ar­chi­tec­ture of this build­ing ad­dresses four di­rec­tions with four thoughts, and re­sponds as well as in­vites re­sponses. In that sense the build­ing sets out a con­ver­sa­tion rather than strictly re­spond­ing to ‘’con­text’’. This con­ver­sa­tion set up within the build­ing is also a set of imag­i­na­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences trav­el­ling from other RMA projects in other con­texts. In this way, con­texts have be­come a net­work rather than the par­tic­u­lar sense of site, lo­ca­tion, view, or cli­mate. Con­texts and re­sponses are trav­el­ling to ad­dress and gen­er­ate new con­text-con­ver­sa­tions. An ex­per­i­ment and ex­pe­ri­ence from a cor­po­rate build­ing in Hyderabad trav­els to a cam­pus for re­search and work in Basel now. The­mat­ics or tech­nolo­gies that may have had be­gin­nings in some other pro­gramme or lo­ca­tion and con­di­tion grow into newer sto­ries, or merge into other sto­ries in this build­ing, and may travel fur­ther else­where. A sense of ar­chi­tec­ture that de­fines con­text through its flânerie!

To go back to the ques­tion we be­gan with, it would be in­ter­est­ing to pon­der over the ac­cu­mu­la­tions and ad­just­ments that an ar­chi­tect shapes ar­chi­tec­ture through. A city such as Bom­bay/Mum­bai is not clearly de­fined by one or an­other par­tic­u­lar ar­chi­tec­tural lin­eage or style, or one that shapes its phys­i­cal fab­ric ad­just­ing to con­di­tions of growth, mi­gra­tions, and fi­nan­cial shifts. There­fore, the idea of con­text re­mains on shift­ing ground all the time — the shift­ing ground is then an im­por­tant chal­lenge and not some­thing to be de­nied pre­cisely be­cause it is not eas­ily mea­sur­able. Mehro­tra’s deep and very crit­i­cal en­gage­ment with Mum­bai — as a con­cerned cit­i­zen, a young ar­chi­tect, a pro­lific writer and re­searcher on ur­ban is­sues, and very ac­tive on the de­vel­op­ment of con­ser­va­tion ideas and poli­cies — is some­thing that has surely shaped his prac­tice. He of­ten builds a very dif­fi­cult but im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship through a lay­ered read­ing of his im­por­tant es­say ‘Ki­netic City’ — be­tween the ideas of con­cern and re­search for a city, and the nu­ances and con­di­tions that shape the ar­chi­tec­ture of build­ings he

de­signs. Vir­chow 16 is surely a build­ing that is in­flu­enced by Mehro­tra’s ca­reer in Mum­bai, but also his con­cerns with ideas of build­ing ty­polo­gies and ar­chi­tec­tural lan­guages in a grow­ing but dif­fi­cult econ­omy like In­dia. The in­side-out­side bi­nary with which build­ings have of­ten been dis­cussed and de­scribed is of­ten today a re­gres­sive han­dle to dis­cuss ar­chi­tec­ture — as nei­ther peo­ple nor ar­chi­tec­ture di­vides it­self so starkly within an in­side and an out­side. An im­por­tant trope for ar­chi­tec­tural and so­cial sci­ences in the 19th and large parts of the 20th cen­tury, this divi­sion es­sen­tially today blurs into in­ter­sti­tial zones that os­mot­i­cally flow and bleed across spa­ces or work, ac­tion, and ideas. Mehro­tra, es­pe­cially in his de­sign for this build­ing, ac­tu­ally fo­cuses on the shape and ge­og­ra­phy of these in­ter­sti­tial zones — the façade, the atrium, the stair­way. The façade is not the patina or a cover-skin for en­clos­ing the ‘in­side’ — but it is ac­tu­ally the ex­panded skin which is now much more of a ‘thick de­scrip­tion’. The atrium with in­ter­con­nected lev­els and ter­races or the stair­way are not sim­ply vis­ual or phys­i­cal pas­sages of move­ment, but in­deed the spa­ces that an­chors the pub­lic life of the build­ing oth­er­wise fo­cussed on tech­ni­cal and sci­en­tific pro­duc­tion. The four façades are not only cre­at­ing, and re­spond­ing, to the site and the streets out­side, as we dis­cussed, but they also cre­ate the many pos­si­bil­i­ties of ne­go­ti­at­ing, re­spond­ing to, the out­side from the in­side of workspaces. The thick­ened façades or the ex­panded atrium are also lo­ca­tions where hi­er­ar­chies of work en­vi­ron­ments come into ques­tion and can be re-or­gan­ised, as one sees Mehro­tra work­ing on this very point­edly in his de­sign for the KMC build­ing in Hyderabad, In­dia.

The workspace from the stream­lined cor­po­rate to the sci­en­tific lab­o­ra­tory avatar is de­nat­u­ralised from its ty­po­log­i­cal imag­i­na­tion and re­pro­duced as a site for pub­lic and in­tel­lec­tual en­gage­ment. Whether it is the in­side-out­side be­tween workspace and street, or it is the in­side-out­side be­tween work cab­ins and com­mon spa­ces within the build­ing — in both cases, the blur­ring of strict divi­sion is ar­chi­tected. The de­tails of façade de­sign and con­struc­tion be­come a clear area of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and in­vest­ment for the ar­chi­tect’s stu­dio in this case. The in­te­gra­tion of plant-life as a nat­u­ral mi­cro-ecosys­tem - on the façade, as well as in­side within the atrium spa­ces and ter­races is an im­por­tant de­sign de­ci­sion that shapes the ideas and life cen­tral to this build­ing de­sign. Im­ages of the build­ing in the early days when it was just com­pleted, and the plant life was only just in­tro­duced, to the time when it starts tak­ing over and defin­ing its own ge­og­ra­phy, one re­alises how the built vol­umes take on a mean­ing with this in­tro­duced na­ture-ecosys­tem. Within this scheme and net­work of af­fairs an artist is in­vited to cre­ate yet an­other layer of mi­cro-worlds — the video in­stal­la­tions ti­tled ‘Amor­phous Color Rain’ by Pip­i­lotti Rist, in which an ar­ray of colours is pro­jected from the ceil­ing onto the dark stone floor be­low, cre­at­ing col­lages of or­gan­i­cally fluc­tu­at­ing puddles of a mys­te­ri­ously an­i­mated liq­uid. These float­ing col­lages that com­pre­hend sur­face and depth si­mul­ta­ne­ously cre­ate not only a new realm of imag­i­na­tion within the build­ing but add an­other di­men­sion to the idea of work, cre­ation, and pro­duc­tion. The build­ing now is not only about sci­en­tific in­ves­ti­ga­tions, dis­cus­sions, and so­lu­tions, but also about the mea­sure of na­ture, the wild­ness of life, the strange­ness of cre­ativ­ity, the play of hu­man per­cep­tion, open­ing up a new world for it­self. Talk­ing of ‘ki­netic cities’, and now tak­ing the ear­lier con­ver­sa­tion to an­other realm with his work with Ephemeral Ur­ban­ism, Mehro­tra brings the ideas and essence of some of this to ar­chi­tec­ture — where spa­ces be­come ki­netic, and no­tions of ar­chi­tec­ture move into ephemeral realms.

PIPILOTI RIST’S ‘AMOR­PHOUS COLOR RAIN’

(Be­cause) she has more pas­sion­ately than any­one be­fore her breathed life into cool video art, Pip­i­lotti Rist is renowned and pop­u­lar world­wide. Born in 1962 in Grabs, St. Gallen, she lives in Zurich. On com­plet­ing her stud­ies in Vienna and Basel at the end of the 1980s, she im­me­di­ately em­barked on her mul­ti­me­dia for­ays into space and mind that of­fer aes­thetic, phys­i­cal and men­tal ad­ven­tures to all those who join her. She has al­ways per­ceived elec­tronic de­vices as ex­ten­sions of her body, con­versely declar­ing in 1988 that “Our eyes are cam­eras that run on blood.”

In the mid-1990s, Rist lib­er­ated her im­ages from the rec­tan­gle of mon­i­tors, pro­ject­ing them onto walls, an­i­mat­ing cor­ners, ceil­ings and floors, and ac­ti­vat­ing places rarely oc­cu­pied by art, es­pe­cially in more re­cent ar­chi­tec­ture. On be­ing in­vited to the Venice Bi­en­nale in 2005, she cre­ated the video ‘Homo Sapi­ens Sapi­ens’, an Ar­ca­dian land­scape pop­u­lated by two young women. As large as Michelan­gelo’s ceil­ing fres­coes in the Sis­tine Chapel, it il­lu­mi­nated the en­tire arched ceil­ing of the late Baroque church of San Staë. The artist il­lu­mi­nates out­door spa­ces as well, for in­stance, in ‘A la belle etoile’ of 2007, pro­jected on the square in front of the Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou to cel­e­brate the 30-year an­niver­sary of that in­sti­tu­tion. For the award cer­e­mony as re­cip­i­ent of the Zurich Fes­ti­val Prize in 2013, she blan­keted the en­tire south façade of Villa We­sendonck and parts of the sur­round­ing park with her mov­ing im­ages, ad­di­tion­ally seen as rip­pling re­flec­tions in the pond in front of the build­ing.

Rist demon­strated her mas­tery of the ex­trav­a­gant ges­ture in 2008 in her riv­et­ing in­stal­la­tion ‘Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cu­bic Me­ters)’ at New York’s Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art. At the same time she is in­cur­ably demo­cratic, in­vest­ing equally painstak­ing care and hu­mour in small in­ter­ven­tions that make an un­ex­pected ap­pear­ance in the spa­tial hi­er­ar­chy. Thus it is that we may come upon an in­ti­mate piece staged in a toi­let, an­i­mated bot­tles in a ho­tel bar or a minia­ture video in a book­case. As far as she is con­cerned, noth­ing is out of bounds for art; there are no places that can­not serve as artis­tic ter­rain.

For the lobby of Vir­chow 16, Rist has cre­ated two dif­fer­ently di­men­sioned video in­stal­la­tions ti­tled ‘Amor­phous Color Rain’. Two units con­cealed in the ceil­ing project an ar­ray of colours onto the dark stone floor be­low like or­gan­i­cally fluc­tu­at­ing puddles of a mys­te­ri­ously an­i­mated liq­uid. For once we are in­vited to step into the lime­light with­out be­ing cen­sured; for once we are told ‘please be touched’ in­stead of ‘do not touch’. When the colours rain down us, we our­selves func­tion as the pic­ture sup­port; we see our bod­ies and even our shadows be­come part and par­cel of the pic­tures in­car­nate. The ex­pe­ri­ence is re­in­forced through the pres­ence of oth­ers, for in­stance, when re­search col­leagues see one an­other bathed in im­ages, en­joy­ing an artis­tic ex­pe­ri­ence that in­vites a brief hia­tus from or­di­nary, ca­sual be­hav­iour.

Pip­i­lotti Rist met with Rahul Mehro­tra sev­eral times in her stu­dio in Zurich and on the con­struc­tion site of Vir­chow 16. In the course of their in­tense con­ver­sa­tions, Rist sensed a great affin­ity with Mehro­tra’s de­clared com­mit­ment to the eth­i­cal ques­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity. He in­vari­ably takes an em­pa­thetic ap­proach to the spe­cific so­cial, eco­nomic and cul­tural con­text of

the site of his in­ter­ven­tion in or­der to make the best of it.

Rist also took great care in de­vis­ing a re­sponse to the givens of the ar­chi­tec­ture in Vir­chow 16. In both of her in­stal­la­tions, she de­cided to fore­ground the mo­tif of ver­ti­cal­ity, in a sense echo­ing the veg­e­ta­tion planted by land­scape ar­chi­tect Gün­ther Vogt. The lat­ter climbs up the out­side of the main façade like a se­cond skin and also hangs down from the ceil­ing in the third-floor atrium. Mehro­tra has de­signed a long and ex­tremely per­for­ma­tive hor­i­zon­tal lobby that af­fords a view of the Rhine land­scape at the other end of the room, the mo­ment one enters the build­ing. At the same time, how­ever, a wide stair­case placed in the room cel­e­brates ver­ti­cal­ity. A great deal of day­light streams down into the space from the win­dows of the spa­cious stair­well and the log­gia on the floor above.

The nat­u­ral en­vi­rons and the in­ci­dence of light plays a cru­cial role in all of Mehro­tra’s ar­chi­tec­ture, much like the coloured light and nat­u­ral land­scapes or cityscapes of Rist’s oeu­vre, in which fig­ures es­cape into dream­ily ex­panded iden­ti­ties. Rist shat­ters the con­fines of en­trenched per­cep­tion; she has de­vised a vis­ual syn­tax based on col­lec­tive mem­ory and (day)dreams, whose gram­mar in­cludes dis­solves, dis­tor­tions and vari­a­tions in dis­tance. Shots taken from high over­head zoom into the most in­ti­mate of minis­cule de­tails. Ev­ery­thing is bathed in an ec­stasy of colour and move­ment, of­ten in breath­tak­ing, slow-mo­tion and al­most al­ways — though not in Vir­chow 16 — buoyed by a sug­ges­tive sound­track that also plays with dis­tance, at times re­ver­ber­at­ing from afar and at oth­ers trail­ing off into a soft whis­per. Dig­i­tal me­dia are the tools of Pip­i­lotti Rist’s trade as a painter, sculp­tor, mu­si­cian and poet. Per­cep­tion of her work of­ten means sub­sid­ing into an al­pha-like state of con­scious­ness, the more so be­cause she en­cour­ages re­laxed and med­i­ta­tive view­ing by fre­quently in­te­grat­ing her own de­signed and pro­duced seat­ing and re­clin­ers into her in­stal­la­tions.

Video is Latin for ‘I see’. In an early video, we hear Pip­i­lotti Rist say­ing, “I see. You see. I see you see­ing. You see me see­ing. I want to see how you see. You want to see how I see. You want to show how you see.” See­ing in her case does not re­fer to the eyes alone but to the en­tire body as a per­ceiv­ing en­tity. Rist looks at the world not only through hu­man eyes but also through those of a bee­tle, a sea urchin, a tulip, a cloud or an elec­tron mi­cro­scope.

She has po­si­tioned the smaller ver­sion of her ‘Amor­phous Color Rain’ next to the en­trance of the video con­fer­ence hall, and the larger one at the foot of the stairs. Any­one us­ing the lift nec­es­sar­ily walks through the larger pro­jec­tion. Peo­ple are thus twice se­duced into tak­ing pause, namely on their way to and from work. Pip­i­lotti Rist draws their at­ten­tion ver­ti­cally down to the floor, to the amor­phous, slowly chang­ing and bub­bling shapes of the colour­ful ponds, invit­ing them to be­come im­mersed as they make their way across them. Just as we must walk through Mehro­tra’s ar­chi­tec­ture to per­ceive the sur­pris­ing wealth of its fea­tures, we ap­pre­ci­ate Rist’s art only by lit­er­ally suc­cumb­ing to it with ‘hide and hair.’ Tak­ing the usual de­tached pose of the viewer will not do.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the room does not have to be dark­ened since Rist’s equip­ment is pow­er­ful enough with­out. More­over, she de­lights in ris­ing to the chal­lenge of ex­plor­ing the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween her aes­thet­i­cally and se­man­ti­cally freighted light art and the bluish to red­dish day­light or the yel­low­ish ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing.

While I am writ­ing this text, Pip­i­lotti Rist’s videos for her ‘Amor­phous Colour Rain’ have not yet ma­te­ri­alised. But we have talked about their char­ac­ter and the qual­i­ties she wants to lend them. Be­ing lo­cated in a lab­o­ra­tory build­ing, a site of re­search and de­vel­op­ment, in­vests Rist’s light art with even greater metaphor­i­cal im­pact as il­lu­mi­nat­ing work that pen­e­trates deep into mat­ter. When I asked her about the ver­ti­cal­ity of the work as to re­lates

to her ex­is­ten­tial in­ter­est in grav­ity and weight­less­ness, in physics and meta­physics, she wrote, “Cap­il­lary ac­tion oc­curs in ev­ery fam­ily with the de­sire to dig deep roots into the earth in or­der to draw on the nu­tri­tious qual­i­ties of the wa­ter and to stretch shoots and leaves up­wards to­ward the light. When the roots sleep, they dream of be­ing squid fly­ing through the clouds. We ig­nore fences but the truth is: our roots are seething. Homo sapi­ens sapi­ens can only drill down into the earth some 12km be­fore the equip­ment melts. But the hu­man imag­i­na­tion pierces this seething core.” Look­ing back on the 25 years spanned by Pip­i­lotti Rist’s oeu­vre, we note that she is equally driven by the con­scious and the un­con­scious. She is acutely aware of be­ing in­sep­a­ra­bly en­twined in po­lit­i­cal, so­cial, cul­tural and sci­en­tific de­vel­op­ments, which, on the one hand, ab­sorb her in­di­vid­u­al­ity and, on the other, pro­foundly mo­ti­vate her own dis­tinc­tive and il­lu­mi­nat­ing vis­ual id­iom in study­ing and in­vent­ing art. No­var­tis Cam­pus — Vir­chow 16

so the con­cen­tra­tion to work is en­hanced. The multi-storey atrium with its green­ery is criss­crossed by con­nect­ing zones of vary­ing de­sign, with wooden fin­ishes that in­vite peo­ple to linger and en­gage di­rectly with na­ture. Light­ing is pro­vided by a num­ber of lin­ear light rib­bons

This spread: The walls, es­pe­cially the balustrades, are fin­ished with white in white ‘stucco lus­tro’. The floors in the lab­o­ra­to­ries are made in grey rub­ber, the en­try level is honed in Onser­none gran­ite from the Swiss Alps, the of­fices in a beige car­pet, and all decks on the in­side and out­side in wood. The fur­ni­ture is rather neu­tral,

This spread: The build­ing en­ve­lope of Vir­chow 16 boasts of an outer layer that com­prises three dif­fer­ent façade types, each re­spond­ing specif­i­cally to dif­fer­ent geo­graphic di­rec­tions

This spread and next: The project of Pip­i­lotti Rist, one of the world’s lead­ing artists, for the Vir­chow 16 build­ing is the win­ning en­try of a com­pe­ti­tion call­ing for an in­stal­la­tion for the two bal­conies on the struc­ture’s Rhine façade. Ti­tled ‘Amor­phous Color Rain’, it is a pro­jec­tion onto the grey gran­ite floor from two ceil­ing-sus­pended pro­jec­tors. Both videos are dis­played in a cer­tain rhythm. The in­stal­la­tion acts as an un­ex­pect­edly cheer­ful in­ter­ven­tion in the daily life of the build­ing, pro­vid­ing in­spir­ing and sur­pris­ing in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ences. Burst­ing with colour and or­ganic move­ment, it makes ref­er­ence to the mi­cro­scopic im­ages of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal re­search, taken to kalei­do­scopic ef­fect

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