A Perfectly Designed Match

By Bella Pallett

I am sure we all feel it is undeniable that two is usually better than one, so when you associate and match two creative professions together the end result is likely to have a potentially greater impact. Main image: Henning Larsen, Batteriid Architects

For example, bringing an artist together with an architect with the goal to design and create luxuriously beautiful outcomes, is a wonderful association. Here we explore how by combining the two professions together for one association there is more added wow in the perfect match.  

When architects and artists come together in union and put their strengths together, a masterpiece can be made. When Henning Larsen Architects and Batteriid Architects worked alongside artist Olafur Eliasson to design and create the Harpa Concert Hall in Iceland, they used the beauty of the location to their advantage.

Knowing that they wanted to reflect the beauty and vibrancy of the city the hall would be placed in, as well as utilising the unique location of being at the edge of the city’s harbour, they worked to ensure the building reflected the unique geology of Iceland.

Henning Larsen, Batteriid Architects

The architects designed a 3D façade composed of 12-sides steel polyhedrons whilst Eliasson designed a special colour effect glass which the polyhedrons were infilled with. They deliberately designed the unique geometry of the glass to change colour with the angle of the sun to reflect the open sky surrounding the harbour aiding the building in matching the location’s natural beauty.

Henning Larsen, Batteriid Architects

The collaboration was a huge success; through utilising the architect’s design and constructions skills and liberating the artist with creative freedom the two were able to combine strengths to design something striking and memorable.

The collaboration between HHF Architects and artist Ai Weiwei was also a huge success. They were requested to design a house for a couple that was centred around protecting and showcasing their growing art collection. They successfully completed this task by listening to the needs of the client and designing 4 boxes connected by glazed passages which allowed natural light in whilst protecting the artwork inside.

HHF Architects

Ai Weiwei chose to use a wood-framed structure with metal features that created time-honoured construction details, and HHF Architects bought the vision to life. By using the elegant and simple design of boxes, the end product was sleek and stunning, so much so that the client asked the pair to design a guest house for the property. To further emphasise the art-based focus, they designed the house to hold a gallery space for the client’s sculpture collection.

By meeting the needs of the clients and listening to their goals, the pair made the perfect match and were able to combine strengths highlighting that two surely is better than one.

HHF Architects

The success of associating art and architecture has been recognised by companies and practices who now have procedures in place to ensure shared responsibility between professions to result in the end product being spectacular.

This is true for muf, an internationally recognised practice established in 1995 and whose work is a collaboration between art and architecture as the two professions work in union. Their goal is to design projects that are consistently pragmatic and endlessly ambitious.

They certainly achieved this with their latest project ‘On Their Way’ which was a commission for the 2020 London Design Festival. The project functioned as a wayfinding trail spread out around Kings Cross for festival-goers. Muf decided to place trees that were carefully positioned in temporary places to help guide; their crowns deliberately pointing them towards the next direction.

By placing the trees in unexpected situations and positions the transient nature of their time in the district is emphasised as they are, literally, on their way elsewhere. After serving their purpose as landmarks, directional help and meeting points, the trees were moved to their forever home at The Grove School in Tottenham for students with autism.

Lewis Ronald, muf

The goal being to subvert the typically fleeting nature of festival-led commissions by creating lasting value through not only art but architecture too.

These projects establish how by associating the two professions, the source of potential is largely grown as functional and beautiful outcomes can be created by two minds instead of one in a perfect match.

If you enjoyed this, read Exhiles and the Music here.

Find out more about muf here.

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