The Eternal & the Ephemeral

The Eternal & the Ephemeral

The dynamics of urban form in the vision of Open Architecture.

The projects presented in the Soul of City exhibition at Marmomac 2017 included one by the international Open Architecture team founded by Li Hu and Huang Wenjing in New York and based in Beijing since 2008. It did not propose an object with a defined shape as such but a changeable installation. Open Architecture believes in the power of architecture to transform people and the way they live by highlighting a new balance between the creations of man and the resources of nature. The soul of the city lies in its eternity in time, sharing, memory and the community. Since the exhibition lasted only four days and that stone is an intrinsically heavy material, in order to balance transience and heaviness OPEN came up with a project that could gradually “disappear” during the exhibition to dismantle itself completely by the end of the event.

A large cube-shaped block of Lecce limestone measuring one and a half metres per side was cut into 8000 small cubes measuring 7.5 cm. The logo of the exhibition and a serial number from 1 to 8000 was printed on each piece. Pimar supplied the material and processing that implemented the installation concept.

Each small cube was therefore unique, both as regards diversity of weight and texture of the material and the progressive serial number assigned; yet, when viewed as a whole, they acquired a broader meaning. Each visitor to the exhibition was invited to deconstruct the initially intact cube and take away a fragment of the installation; each one will remain forever linked with the memory of the exhibition in many different parts of the world. Removing small cubes from the initial block meant that its shape continued to change, from a cube-like geometry into a profile that increasingly resembled an urban skyline. Visitor consequently also became “creators” of the installation and their actions became part of the project.

In this sense the city’s soul – and the “Soul of City” exhibition was curated by Luca Molinari and PLATFORM Architecture & Design to investigate, through stone, a number of possible visions of contemporary city life – found expression in the continually changing balance between the ephemeral and the durable.

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