Branded Spaces workshop

1st year students took part in a workshop that enabled them to study the identity of London’s riverscape and skyline through observational sketches, to capture and document the unique features that determine our sense of place and belonging. The study trip started at embankment where we took a river boat to Greenwich. The first exercise required students to capture the essence of the spaces they passed as the boat was moving. This required focus and a critical approach towards the evaluation of spatial elements. Once in Greenwich, we explored the wonders and complexity of the Cutty Sark and the symbolisms presented to the public. Finally we walked all the way to the Royal Observatory where students were asked to record the splendid view of London as it was revealed to them, while focussing on the perceptual affect of the foreground, middleground and background. The weather was fabulous and it was a thoroughly enjoyable day out!

Click on the link to see a short video of students sketching the riverscape: IMG_4396_web

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

By Valerie Mace

On Thursday 27th of february 2014, we took LCC BA Spatial Design students to the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy. The RA invited 6 architectural practices from all over the world to create a full size pavilion/installation each in the gallery spaces: Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Suto de Moura (Porto, Portugal), Grafton Architects (Dublin, Ireland), Kengo Kuma (Tokyo, Japan), Li Xiaodong (Beijing, China), Pezo Von Ellrichshausen (Concepcion, Chile), Diebedo Francis Kere (Burkina Faso and based in Berlin, Germany).

We spent the afternoon exploring each installation and also investigating their effect on people including ourselves. Each pavilion offered a different gamut of sensory experiences and each provided a fully immersive experience. We were able to move through them, interact, play, touch, smell (and the corresponding taste), listen, etc. Sometimes it was moving, other times it was fun and at times intriguing even surprising.

We completed the visit with a lively discussion where everyone was able to express their personal impressions and perceptions. It would be very difficult to choose a favourite pavilion, each has wonderful qualities that can only be fully understood by first hand experience and active participation. We all agreed however that it was a unique and memorable experience and also that we learned a lot about the rewards of multi-sensory experiences in spaces. This is something we are very keen to explore further in the interior and surfaces of future spatial design projects on the course, looking this time at how we can enrich our sensory perceptions of everyday spaces and places.

A one of the Course Leader of the BA (Hons) Spatial Design and someone whose research interests focus on Spatial Experiences and more specifically senses and atmosphere, I’m attending a few other events linked to the exhibition. So far I have been to a talk on the making of the exhibition by the Curator Kate Goodwin and another talk on Staging Sensory Experiences with Chandler Burr, Bombas and Parr and Jo Malone. All fascinating and really insightful.

I have still to look forward to a full day’s symposia and sensing spaces on the 29th of March and I hope to be able to revisit the exhibition before it closes. The symposia is sold out but it is possible to download the full schedule at the bottom of the site’s page.

Model – Anthony Gormley

Perceptual system data recording

Anthony Gormley ‘Model’ White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey, London. 02/01/13 Based on J. J. Gibson perceptual system and Joyce Malmar and Frank Vodvarka ‘Sensory Design’

This activity was carried out with design students at LCC while on site visit. Each student completed their own chart mapping and recording their perceptions. This is one example.

Model-exterior Model-interior1 Model-interior2

Duration of the visit: 45 minutes in the main installation’s gallery space

Chart completed: after an initial familiarisation with the environment (2nd visit) √

Participation: Active √

Visual system: the rust coloured surfaces of the installation and soft grey and white of the gallery creates a contrast of warm against cool and intense against dull. The visible patterns and soldering joints on the sculpture hint at the construction method leaving a memory trace of when the installation was assembled. The scale of the oversize exterior matches that of the gallery that contains the work but contrasts sharply with the intimacy of the interior chambers. The changes of light levels from very bright on the outside to semi-darkness or complete darkness on the inside reinforce the sense of mystery and anticipation I felt when walking across the threshold of the installation. It’s not possible to get a complete view of the installation on the outside because of its size. It almost covers the entire length of the gallery, leaving only a narrow passage between the surface of the installation and the back wall of the gallery. As a result it is difficult to get a sense of the work as a whole and its depiction of the body. I had to concentrate to identify body parts. A superficial evaluation resulted in seeing only cubic containers assembled together in a seemingly random manner. However the narrow passage at the back creates a sense of anticipation and mystery about the other side which is only revealed upon crossing the passage and stepping back from the work. The same material used throughout forces me to focus on surfaces, form and void.

Auditory system: the light and dull tone of the sound vibrations in the very large room of the gallery contrast sharply with the deep, intense and loud tone experienced inside the installation. The contrast is especially strong on the threshold, when coming out of the echoic enclosed space feels almost soothing. Inside, variations in tone and intensity occur depending on the size and shape of the chamber, the smaller the space the deeper the sound, as well as on the material used in contact with the metal. Hitting the metal with a hard object such as the heels of my shoes creates vibrations that travel through the metal surfaces and resonate inside the structure. Voices also reverberate against the solid surfaces. It is therefore difficult to pin point the source of a sound with accuracy.

Taste-Smell system: neutral, similar to the rest of the gallery.

Basic-Orienting system: navigation occurs as a continuous run around the sculpture with only two openings and only one of them being an actual entrance. The entrance and the exit are the same so I had to walk back where I came from, forcing me to re-experience the event. Little is revealed about the circulation and the entrance remained hidden until I arrived almost directly in front of it. No information was given to help locate the entrance to the installation upon entering the gallery so I had to make a decision whether to go right or left. I chose right, which impacted on my experience of the event because I’d almost been around the entire model before I found the entrance while those who chose left found it sooner before they could see the other side. This means entering the sculpture with a clear mental picture of the outside (right) or only a limited one (left). Inside with no variations in materials, form, scale and light from openings are the main visual cue to aid orientation. A few symbols left from when the sheets of steel were in storage could provide visual cues akin to a basic form of signage although the installation is small enough to learn its layout fairly quickly.

Haptic system: the hard solid steel didn’t feel cold because it looked warm and because the temperature of the gallery was controlled to be neutral. It was fairly smooth with only a little texture. The metal felt heavier when I touched it than when I looked at it, possibly due to my own expectation about the material and also because the scale of the installation is broken down into smaller cubes. Next to the metal, the polished concrete floor appears softer than it actually is. Kinaesthesia: The spacious exterior allows for unconstrained movement. The interior is a continuous run of chambers of various scale and light levels. As a result I became hesitant, slightly disorientated and forced to slow down in places, even bend down where the height was reduced to a minimum.

Temperature & Humidity: neutral. Controlled independently by the gallery.

Time Perception: I didn’t think about time while exploring the sculpture. The focus is on discovery and navigation and because the mind is busy mapping he environment time seems to stand still.