Architecture, some might say, is made up of structures erected within a landscape. But this definition ignores the discipline of landscape architecture, and the fact that structures are the landscape. Although at first glance it might seem simple to distinguish between the two, when structures change, or interact with, or blend into the environment around them, it can become hard to tell where one begins and the other ends.
This is the thinking that informs a new exhibition showcasing four Toronto artists and architecture firms, on view at Toronto Harbourfront Centre’s architecture gallery. Called Breathtaking: Constructed Landscapes, the works explore how architecture creates a bridge, rather than a barrier, between the built and natural environment.
Lenticular Curtain, a four-sided sculpture by PLANT Architect, is made from hundreds of hanging strips that together form images of rugged landscapes. Visitors walk into the centre of the sculpture, which causes the strips to sway and the landscapes to dissolve, meld and reform in ever-changing patterns. Viewable from both inside and out, the work reverses the norm by creating a kinetic structure from static landscapes.
Idea Tank Design Collective takes another view of nature with their in.side.out, where architecture is a catalyst to seeing nature in a whole new way. A tiny hut-like pavilion, the sculpture is clad in flexible white fabric that hides an interior finished with tactile surfaces and openings permitting views of outdoor scenes.
Baird Sampson Neuert Architects’ expertise in designing buildings as scaled-down landscapes comes into play with Simulacra’s Terrain. Seeing the artificiality of the gallery interior as a challenge, BSN formulated a simple architectural frame that presents shifting visions of nature. As a viewer moves along the length of the piece, a curved wall lined with reflective materials shows a distorted forest scene, blending the image inextricably with the architecture.
Artist Vid Ingelevics turned his camera to hunters’ blinds for a series of photos dubbed Platforms. These lean-to structures are deliberately made to disappear into the forest by using irregular, uneven lines, allowing hunters to hide from their prey. Ingelevics’s photos capture the treehouse-like shapes of this vernacular form of architecture, whose locations are passed along only by word of mouth, and whose temporariness ensures that over time they will dissolve back into the forest around them.
Breathtaking: Constructed Landscapes is on view at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, until December 23, 2012.