Times Out’s “Show of the Week”, and the first new major art exhibition to open in London this year, is Sensing Spaces – Architecture Reimagined at the Royal Academy. Not only is this a “must see” exhibition, it is a “must experience” as six architects from around the world have created very different architectural spaces for the visitor to explore, climb, wander through and add to the construction itself. Pezo von Ellrichschausen has created a monumental timber structure, reminiscent of some of the work of Ricardo Bofill, where the visitor can climb up near to the roof of the gallery and see architectural detail of the historic rooms not normally seen at close hand. Kengo Kuma provides a light and sensory installation where the visitor is entranced by a illuminated and scented forest of thin bamboo, while Li Xiadong creates a different forest at the other end of the exhibition; a maze of hazel sticks with a mirrored room at its heart and other “tree-houses” hidden within it.
Cathedral-like is the vaulted tunnel or cave created by Diebedo Francis Kere where the visitor can add to the colour and playfulness by inserting multi-coloured straws into the structure – it will be interesting to see how this looks at the end of the exhibition.
Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara have created something that feels the most architectural, solid and heavy, as if made of concrete but actually it is made of light steel frames covered with canvas, where one rooms is bright and white; the next is dark and with deep shadows. Farrell says is meant to be like going from hot to cold in a sauna. Most of the rooms have seats of differing textures and types of seating to sit and think and contemplate the sensory experiences created by these six architects.
This is an exhibition that, from the response of visitors on the first few days, is enjoyable and stimulating for adults and children alike.