Kéré Architecture Kéré Architecture

Philadelphia Museum of Art Colorscape

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Much like the architecture of Francis Kéré, this installation is an example of how aggregating a simple material can produce an extraordinary structure that has the power to unite and inspire the community. Inspired by Philadelphia’s rich tradition of textiles and woven crafts, the main material used to create the Colorscape is a locally-sourced lightweight cord made of interwoven strands. Wrapped around prefabricated steel components and hung from the ceiling of the Perelman atrium space, the colorful cord becomes both a massive volume and a unifying element that encloses the visitors.

In the spirit of communal building practices in rural Africa, the detailing of the installation was designed so that it could be built by individuals with little or no construction experience. Threading the components required no tools or complicated techniques, making the assembly process so safe and simple that even local children could participate.

Conceptually, the formal expression of the installation was generated using a combination of organic and rectilinear geometries inspired by the contrasting layouts of the typical African village and American city. By overlaying the organic grid of Kéré’s home village Gando with the rectilinear grid of William Penn’s Philadelphia, visual as well as conceptual parallels between the types and geometries of spaces begin to appear. Philadelphia is a modern and industrial city whose busy citizens regularly bus, drive, or train to and from work or school. Gando on the other hand, is mainly an agriculture-based society that lives in close context to the natural rhythm of the seasonal landscape. If you look beyond these differences, you might begin to find similarities in how these two societies use architecture to form social gradients ranging from the individual and private to the collective and public.

Integrated within the Colorscape, the Sounds of the Village are a collection of audio samples recorded both in Burkina Faso and Philadelphia. The sounds communicate atmosphere, an often elusive aspect of villages and cities that enrich our experience of them just as much as the visual and physical. Sounds of the Village was produced in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Architecture students.

This installation was produced as part of the Creative Africa series, specifically supporting the monographic exhibition The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community.

STATUS: Temporary Exhibition
SITE: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building / Philadelphia / USA

SIZE: 45
CLIENT: Philadelphia Museum of Art