Architecture?… or Sculpture?

Earlier this summer, Philadelphia played host to Future Sensations,  a traveling exhibit celebrating the 350th anniversary of the French construction materials company Saint-Gobain, whose U.S. headquarters is in suburban Philadelphia.

Now, I don’t usually go in for these corporate PR productions (and I didn’t actually ‘go in’ to this one either), but I knew as soon as I saw the promos that I wanted to photograph it!

The ‘Future’ was composed of five pavilions which “take visitors on a grand journey of science, storytelling and art that celebrates the past three and a half centuries and sets the stage for future innovations that will change the world.”

The ‘Future’ was created using “26 products from the Saint-Gobain family of companies”, and each pavilion was dedicated to a ‘Sensation’:  Look;  Listen;  Color;  Create;  and Discover.

O.K.  Enough of the corporate PR!  I couldn’t tell you anything about any of the ‘26 products’ or the ‘350 years’, and the only ‘Sensation’ that I cared about was that they Looked cool!

The pavilions are the creation of the French artist Bruno Tric.  I wish I could tell you more about Tric, but other than a mention as ‘Artistic Coordinator’ on a couple of French synth-pop albums and one credit as a set designer, I could find nothing about him.  What ever his history, his designs for ‘Future Sensations’ are clean, mature, and appealing.

The Create pavilion, pictured above, is described as “a true architectural feat – a seemingly perpetual spiral staircase that evokes the upward movement of mankind across the centuries.”  A little pretentious, perhaps, but I guess I can see it.

The Listen pavilion, below, is called a ‘padded cube’…   easy to see that;

the Listen Pavilion, Future Sensations

the Listen Pavilion, Future Sensations

 

and the Discover pavilion, bottom, is a 70 ft. dome.  Yes, it is.

But, are they architecture?  I suppose they are;  they are buildings certainly.  I saw them more as sculptures, though, and, if I can presume to speak for Mr. Tric, it seems the designer saw them that way, as well.

Architecture does embody many of the traits of sculpture, and many of the worlds great works of architecture have been called sculptural, so, if these pavilions stray towards the sculptural, I suppose it makes them no less architectural.  Regardless, I found them visually compelling.  And fun to shoot!

the Discover Pavilion, Future Sensations

the Discover Pavilion, Future Sensations

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