Dominique Perrault Architecture


07 | 07 | 2006   |   22 | 10 | 2006

Architects' scenographies - Pavillon de l'Arsenal

Paris, France

Christine Desmoulins 
Scientific curator of the exhibition   

Every day, every minute, thousands of temporary exhibitions are catering to millions of visitors around the world. Architects participate in this exuberance with plenty of talent. For them, designing a temporary exhibition is equivalent to modifying the space and the material of the place in order to change our view of things and pass on a message.  

Inflatable showcases, flying carpets, digital display walls, interactive tables, robot circuits, misappropriation of billboards, videos, projections, levitated structures, organic structures, acoustic paths, suspended membranes... “Architects’ Exhibition Designs” reviews sixty-five designs of temporary exhibitions produced in Europe in the past ten years by architects from all over the world. The diversity of their work is displayed here.   

Whether it is discrete or spectacular, educational, experimental or manifest, emotional or playful – each design reflects the diversity of styles, trends and evolutionary concepts of an era. If displaying the work of art remains the foundation of designs for museum-like exhibitions, in contemporary art and installations, the architect and the artist work together.   

For exhibitions on historic, technical or scientific themes, notions of intimacy with the object and of contemplation are replaced with spectacular presentations, which integrate reconstructions and experiments. Vehicles of new methods of communication, projections and digital images are equally important in developing the aesthetics of exhibitions. Apart from situating objects, moods are created and warehouse walls suddenly become projection surfaces.   

Each exhibition design is intimately linked with the architectural signature of its author and all of them respond to the curators’ demands and to various constraints.   

For over 15 years, the Pavillon de l’Arsenal has committed the design of its exhibitions to French and international architects. More than fifty exhibition designs that have been created since 1989 are displayed here.   

Using architects to design exhibitions means accepting that an architectural character will involve itself with the building, establish and redesign space in order to serve a purpose and to invoke emotions.   

Parking lots, warehouses, factories, chapels, museums or art places – the variety of spaces that are invested means that each time the amount and specificity of volume available dictate the boundaries within which the architect has to work.   

These architectures, very much like hermit crabs, meddle in the most improbable spaces to create paths and moods to provide their visitors with a unique experience.
65 Architects’ Exhibition Designs and more… 
Dominique Perrault   

The architect-exhibition designer is all-pervasive; he takes over the place and claims the territory as his own. This presence is often exultant as it often expresses itself liberally. The staging of a transient and traveling exhibition is a stark contrast to the slow and weighty nature of architectural construction. The subject has to become legible, the place has to come alive and be dynamic. So many stimulating conditions for spirit and form. So many contexts in which create new spatial experiences or plastic research as ever. The architect finds himself in unknown territory to work on subjects to which he has a close yet unfamiliar relationship. He introduces himself to established spaces which have been used many times in the past by others.   

So what can be said about the exhibition design of an exhibition which examines exhibition design? There is an impression that everything has already been done, that we are most innovative ; volatile without shame.   

As our task is to pervade, let’s do it without hesitation. First, let’s empty the space of all memory : no traces left, a floor, a roof, unfettered views of the city. Nothing; nothing but skin on bones. And then let’s illuminate to pay tribute to all this creativity, albeit taking the liberties of weightiness, floating in this space flooded with light, shining both literally and figuratively. Let these floating showcases appear like so many messages coming from elsewhere which invade and enchant us, revealing any remaining doubt as to the real pleasures of creating spaces and of discovering works and viewing them ; in Paris or anywhere else.   

“Architects’ Exhibition Designs, 115 European Exhibitions Designed by Architects” 
Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Paris 
July 7th – October 22th, 2006