Going Inside the Giant White Bubble

For a few months I have wanted to go to an exhibition being held at the Institut du Monde Arabe. The glass fronted building of the institute is impressive in itself, however there has been a large white bubble-building in the front courtyard that has intrigued me. I finally got around to visiting the exhibition this week as it closes at the end of the month.

Institut du Monde Arabe

The wall of the Institut du Monde Arabe

The exhibition focuses on the work of Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, and is located inside a moveable building designed by Hadid herself. The building is organic in shape – like a freeform bubble – and has been designed to be moved and relocated as the exhibition moves between cities. The exhibition had already been shown in New York and Tokyo and yet the quality of the materials and the solidity of the building made it difficult to believe that it was transportable.

Zaha Hadid building

Amazing.

The exhibition itself was a bit disappointing. Its key focus was the way in which Hadid’s architectural firm is redesigning the concept of a skyscraper – turning it from being an individual entity that is designed to impress and stand out, to amalgamating towers into the surrounding landscapes to produce a more useable space. The exhibition had examples of the company’s work and highlighted some of the techniques used, however, like most ‘conceptual’ exhibitions, the audio guide merely prattled on about modernity concepts of space and how towers were symbols of power blah blah blah. While that is all very interesting and so forth, I didn’t come away feeling like I really knew what Hadid’s motivations were and how she managed to get from being a female in Iraq to running a multi-million dollar architectural firm in London. Plus the examples of her work were all current works that were either recently or near completion. I couldn’t gauge a sense of progress, development or future aspirations. Pity.

Luckily the building the exhibition was showcased in was so wonderful. It allowed for a very easy flow within the space and the exhibition was clearly designed to fit within the area. What was also interesting was that it was France-specific, with information about buildings that Hadid is designing in Marseille and Montpellier. Clearly as the exhibition moved between cities, the exhibits would change somewhat to highlight what was more relevant to that country.

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