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Is this the show of the spring?

A thrilling new exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Art challenges the way we experience architecture

Is this the show of the spring?

If Sensing Spaces has one message, it’s that architecture is to be experienced, not just looked at. It’s a show where you can climb on the work, smell it, and play on it – and it’s already been labelled “era-defining” by the Architects’ Journal

For the show, London’s Royal Academy gives its main rooms over to seven world-renowned architects – from Pritzker Prize-winners to emerging talents – to do as they please. Japanese star architect Kengo Kuma takes visitors back to his childhood home with delicately constructed bamboo spirals infused with the aroma of tatami mats; Li Xiaodong creates a maze of hazel filled with wooden hideaways; and Chilean practice Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s spiral staircases lead to a raised section where the gallery’s ornate ceiling is all you can see. Particularly memorable is a work by Burkinabé architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, which invites visitors to stick colourful straws into a huge honeycomb tunnel, transforming it over the course of the exhibition into a surreal hedgehog-like form.

Sensing Spaces is about experiencing the power of architecture and bringing people into direct, physical contact with the spaces,” says curator Kate Goodwin of the show, which runs until 6 April. “So often, we talk about architecture through images or representations – things that are secondary to the experience of it. It’s a very physical thing, though. Proportions, light and movement are not static. What underlies everything in the exhibition is a desire to connect with people.”



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