Twenty-nine columns, eight rooms

Twenty-nine columns, eight rooms is our response to the open call 2019 by the London Festival of Architecture with the theme boundaries.

Boundaries are the essence of architecture. If there were no boundaries, everything would be neutral. The question is: how do these boundaries manifest themselves?

The RIBA Architecture Gallery is a neutral white box, created by Carmody Groarke by converting the existing light well and a series of disused office spaces. This white box is created by adding a series of false walls in front of the existing structure. What lies behind these white walls remains unknown. Our proposal starts from the elements that distinguish this gallery from the white box: the L-shape and three central columns of 1,02 x 1,02.

We propose to use the same strategy to create a labyrinth of boundaries. The twenty-six false columns are equally divided in-between the existing columns and walls creating a series of eight rooms with different dimensions, larger and more intimate rooms. The columns are spaced 25 centimeters apart to question the boundaries of these rooms and give a hint of the spaces beyond. Visitors can see the light spill through the columns, but can’t pass through. Or can they? This tension is further enhanced by the slightly mirroring dark floor.

Nine of the false columns function as passageways to get from one room to the next. The interior of these “column spaces” is used to tell different stories from Londoners about the boundaries they face in everyday life, by means of integrated speakers. Stories about personal boundaries, stories about the edge of the city, stories about social boundaries and stories about physical boundaries.

While experiencing the interiors of these column spaces the visitor will become part of the boundaries themselves. No-one will be able to pass through as long as there is someone inside the column.

Location: RIBA Architecture Gallery, London
Programme: Exhibition design
Client: Royal Institute of British Architects
Competition: Open Call 2019 – RIBA Architecture Gallery – Boundaries
Gross floor area: 137 m²
Status: Completed in April 2019