One of fourteen international firms invited to participate in the Architecture as Art exhibit at the XXI Triennale di Milano International Exhibition, we were asked by the curators to build human-scale installations as “the architectural equivalent of entries in a possible dictionary, such as Portico, Entrance, Rehabilitation, Roof, Shelter, Pavilion, etc.”
Six interlocking aluminum vaults spring from a triangular outdoor stage to define a new space for performance and serendipitous public use – and misuse.
The vault – historically erected over social gathering spaces, such as thermae, amphitheaters, and basilicas – is one of the most fundamental elements of architecture. While traditionally built with massive load bearing masonry, and expressing solidity and strength, the aluminum vaults in Polycentric Pavilion are as thin as possible – 5mm – making their connection to the environment more tenuous, as they respond to external forces such as sound and wind. Sound – emanating from a performance, from the vaults moving with the wind, or elsewhere in the Bicocca grounds – is projected by the aluminum vaults in unfamiliar ways, heard by a mobile public.
Polycentric Pavilion is conceived of as both an area for passive lounging, and a model for a more active and multi directional performance.
The varying relationship between the vaults, the deck and the void allows performers and audience to decide whether the decking serves as a stage, seating, both or neither, resulting in multiple performance configurations.
Client: XXIst Triennale di Milano International Exhibition (XX1T)
Curators: Nina Bassoli, Pier Luigi Nicolin
Location: Pirelli Hangar, Bicocca, Milan, Italy
Program: Polycentric pavilion
Design Team: Eric Bunge, Mimi Hoang | Albert Figueras | Wei Wen
Collaborators: Curators: Nina Bassoli, Pierluigi Nicolin | Structure: Craft Engineering Studio | Fabrication: Extravega; Tosetto
Photography: Michele Nastasi, courtesy Editoriale Lotus