09 March 2010

Buffer Space and Mobility: Defining parallel performative use in a singular structure

Centre Pompidou Mobile: A limited invited competition for a mobile art structure.

Concept Description: Our reading of the project, that may distinguish the potential design from those of three other competing teams, is to see the enclosure of the built project - architectural and engineering-wise – as distinct from the performance of the art display within it.

Though the performance of casework (vitrines), humidity control, artifact security, access to art works for rotation, as well as the design for new flexible format for display, much meet a high integrated performance – this does not mean that enclosure of the public and enclosure of the artifacts are equal and the same thing.

To distinguish our team’s future design work, and how to respond to the exigencies of the programme, we see the mobile structure as a climatic and environmental buffer, where low-energy means of comfort control, that would need to respond to a wide public use with widely varying visitors at various times of the day. Developing such a structure and its energy performance, to allow for both passive and active environmental controls, will be the challenge of this design: To create a performative space that at its scale and level of costs, will be iconic and demonstrative at the same time.

With certain art on display for shorter periods, or in materials that warrant natural light, we will consider a roof enclosure that is operable to respond to this need – operable as in stationary mobility. Equally this operable natural daylight source, should allow for controlled lower light levels, without resorting to a black-box performance, yet allowing for various projected or integral media that may be used in the galleries or adjacent spaces.

By “loosening” the environmental performance of the public spaces themselves, even within the galleries, without sacrificing comfort, security or other performative criteria requested, leaves us much larger room to focus on the casework (vitrines) as the focus of specific art/conservation requirements.

In this way, the project will entail a two tiered consideration in design, on the mobile building structure itself, and the secondary interior enclosure to artifacts on display. This two-tiered system, though typically present in standard museums, is oppositional and strategic in our design proposal, allowing for far more creative and performative responses to both – separately and intertwined.

The mobility of the design, will be not be solely established by the efficient mounting and demounting of the structure, but in the mobility of the viewer in the volumes and the perception of the art, in an active role.

We see that “Mobility” will be best served by creating a buffer architectural and engineering enclosure, leaving the highest performing spaces to the art itself – the vitrines or other installations – and in the process giving the centre both its identity and its performative use.
In this way the Centre Pompidou Mobile will be a singular performative structure for art.

Conceptual competition text by Tim Culbert for the joint-venture team of Explorations Architecture (Mandataire) + Imrey Culbert. Three firms were selected to make design proposals for the mobile Pompidou structure in 2009.