Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces (review)

Rural Studio, Alabama, USA - Woodshed from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.
The Shedworking staff decamped to the 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces exhibition at the V&A in London yesterday where we joined John Coupe from Secrets of Shed Building for a guided tour of the show by its curator Abraham Thomas. The main elements are seven small structures scattered around the museum ranging from Rural Studio's Woodshed (see video above) to an elevated Japanese teahouse - my personal favourite - and an incredible wooden tower of books.

Terunobu Fujimori Beetle's House - final finishing touches from Architects Build Small Spaces on Vimeo.
None of the architects involved are household names (though regular readers of Shedworking will recognise some) but they are extremely talented and inventive with a very impressive attention to detail. There are also informative video screens and a dozen more excellent design models on display which didn't quite make it to the construction stage. There are no specific shedworking structures although, as John pointed out, it was a little like looking at a fashion catwalk show in the expectation that some of the ideas will find their way into more mass market structures.

Thomas - who kindly said that his research for the exhibition included a nose around the Shedworking site - explained that key elements of the show are collaboration and engagement. The architects (none of them UK-based) have worked for the first time with a number of contractors whom they have admired from afar, while their ideas centre very much on providing an interactive space for visitors to explore - you are actively encouraged to wander around inside all the exhibits rather than simply look at drawings and scale models.

In short, it's a marvellous exhibition, unmissable for anybody interested in shedlike atmospheres and microarchitecture: I'll be taking my children to it and I know they will love it. Even if you can't make it there in person, there is a fantastic site online covering all the builds featuring blogs and videos plus lots of photos at their Flickr pages. There is also a lovely (and engagingly small) catalogue which I'll be giving away in a competition tomorrow here on Shedworking.

1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces runs until August 30 and is free with various talks, tours and lectures scheduled (see the #smallspaces hash tag on Twitter for details). Some of the structures will be sold at auction in September.
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