CHA were commissioned by Collusion to design the pavilions for Collusion 2019, a multi-disciplinary and immersive exhibition exploring the relationship between art and technology. The exhibition - which is located at Cambridge Leisure, Cambridge Junction - features interactive works by six artists housed in a series of freestanding pavilions.
Two main factors influenced our response to this brief. Firstly, there was the issue of how to provide an identity to the exhibition as a whole, one that would stand up to the context, a busy public and retail space, as well as to the natural elements. Designing an exhibition outside has specific challenges, not only to keep out the weather but also to form a context for art where people might not be expecting to come across it.
Secondly, the design needed to relate to Collusion’s concept for the exhibition and the content of the artworks within it. The immersive quality of these artworks posed another challenge, one where the interior spaces needed to be very different from their external expression. Effectively, each pavilion is a small, outdoor cinema, autonomous and yet part of a family.
Our design responds to these various factors by forming what we have called a ‘digital village’, a small, temporary settlement of similar but subtly differentiated objects. The pavilions have roofs that slope in different directions so that each one appears to be addressing a different corner of the square in which they are sited. The shape of the pavilions is simultaneously abstract and subtly figurative, with extended parapets suggesting signage and a desire to communicate. Each one is clad in a combination of coloured corrugated metal and birch-faced plywood so that, materially, they sit somewhere between the allotment shed and the light industrial unit.
The use of everyday and industrial building materials – the language of business parks and data storage centres as well as garages and lock-ups – provides a reference to the often faceless places where the emerging technology explored by the artworks is produced. At the same time, the use of colour lends the pavilions a playful, decorative quality. These are subtly communicative and minimally decorated sheds: the coloured screw caps offering a suitably pragmatic form of ornamentation.
Finally, the overall arrangement of the pavilions forms a public space within the wider one of Cambridge Junction. Their relationship to each other and to the site is intended to be enigmatic – part of the environment but also removed from it. Each pavilion hosts an individual artwork – by Jo Lawrence, Crowded Room, Adham Faramawy, DDB (led by Christian Nold and James Stevens), Above & Below and Henry Driver and Barbara Dougan. One of the artworks – the Blockchain Totem, sits in the centre of the space, redolent of a monument or cross on a village green.
Image Credit: Jim Stephenson