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Mind & Matter

 

A Visit to the Material World

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Material World exhibit on opening night. Photo courtesy of the Danish Architecture Center.

 

I recently had the opportunity to give a talk at the Danish Architecture Center in a symposium connected to "Material World," a new exhibit on emerging and innovative materials for architecture. The exhibit was curated by DAC and the progressive Copenhagen design firm 3XN, with support from Realdania. My colleagues and friends Jannie Rosenberg Bendsen (DAC) and Kasper Guldager Jørgensen (3XN) did much of the heavy lifting to design, coordinate, and build the exhibition, which aims to express how humanity's aspirations have been encapsulated in the built environment using materials as the vehicles for their realization.



Mock-up of the Elbphilharmonie glass façade. Photo by Blaine Brownell.

 

One of the strongest characteristics of the show is the fact that materials are always exhibited at their true scale, rather than via images or drawings at a reduced—and thus abstracted—scale. Materials are displayed in two primary forms: as product samples on long, centrally located tables; and as full-sized mock-ups of recent, innovative buildings. One of these mock-ups is a section of the curved glass façade of Herzog & deMeuron's stunning Elbphilharmonie building in Hamburg (shown)—an installation so heavy that it required the consultation of engineers to ensure that the DAC gallery floor could provide adequate support. This and the other mock-ups are actual working prototypes from construction sites, revealing the layers of required embedded materials at full scale—offering the public a rare glimpse into some of the concrete ways that innovative buildings take shape.

 

Check out the Danish Architecture Center for more information on "Material World," which runs until June 5, 2012.

 

 
 

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.