On Now: Junya Ishigami’s Architecture as Air

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Junya Ishigami's pavillion at the 2008 Venice Biennale Architecture Festival
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In Junya Ishigami’s fittingly named installation Architecture as Air, the main structure appears to float effortlessly. Now open at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, the exhibition explores and redefines the aesthetics of minimalism.

Exploring the role of perception, materials and scale in relation to art and architecture, the installation, which the architect describes as “melting endlessly into space,” encompasses a single curved line evoking delicate four-metre columns that run the full 80-metre length of the space. Meticulously constructed, the columns appear to hover in mid air. It’s only after a closer look that the structural components are revealed.

Although this is his first U.K. exhibition, the installation is a further development of the architect’s work shown at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010, Architecture as Air: Study for Château la Coste. There he won the Golden Lion prize for best project.

Ishigami’s other work also investigates transparency in both materials and form. In 2007, he created Balloon, a four-storey-high rectangular aluminum volume filled with helium. The structure floated within the atrium of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo and while it appeared buoyant, it weighed a tonne.

In 2008, Ishigami teamed up with the famous botanist Hideaki Ohba to design the Japanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Along with internal walls covered in the architect’s delicate, almost invisible drawings of landscapes, an external garden was crafted for the pavilion featuring large, clear glass greenhouses.

Architecture as Air is showing at Barbican Art Gallery in London, U.K. until October 16.

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