Schipbreukeling – Mathieu Charles


The social gathering pavilion Deep Encounter floats just off the shore of Park Sonsbeek’s biggest pond, Grote Vijver. It at once insinuates itself within nature and emphasises its own artificiality in the use of crystal-like triangles within a round polygon structure supported by a triangulated wooden base and wrapped tightly in striped canvas from reused marquees. For flotation, the pavilion depends on blue liquid transport barrels that one might recognise as the containers typically used in oceanic trade to transport oil, food and even dangerous chemicals or hazardous waste. These plastic vessels that tend to end up in landfills after they have outlived their use are repurposed for this project.

The aquatic is also called to mind in the physical appearance of the structure: its exterior resembles a buoy or rescue island, while the warm interior invites contemplation. Water is a key aspect in varying degrees throughout the pavilion. The platform for dialogue responds to human- made surroundings by allowing for nature, water especially, to enter in and inhabit the space. This is done through an opening along its thin membrane, another small opening at the top and a larger entry way at the bottom covered with a strong mesh that resembles a fishing net and permits visitors to get precariously close to the water beneath. When it rains, the runoff flows into the pavilion from the opening in the roof, forming a water curtain inside.

In another effort to centre nature within an otherwise artificial environment, suspended in the middle of the open space is a large rock, contradicting the pavilion’s own geotechnical aesthetics, and which, over time, is meant to grow its own ecosystem. In this heterotopic space – a dissonant but important sharing of natural and social experience – sonsbeek is given a platform to share its programme with the park’s own natural systems.

raumlabor is a collective of nine members who have a common background in architecture. As architects, artists, performers, inventors and curators, they have developed different spaces for action. The group developed from 1999 onwards out of a common interest in an expanded understanding of architecture, which has since established itself as urban practice. The working method of raumlabor is situational and action-oriented, with a focus on the collaborative production of space as an open-ended process. Examples include Open House (2010), a vertical village as generator for an open society in South Korea and The KNOT (2010), a laboratory for artistic production, dialogue and presentations in public space. In terms of city planning, they specialise in ‘dynamic master planning’, as seen in Activating Urban Development Airport Tempelhof (2007–08). Their approach to urban intervention is exemplified by Eichbaumoper (2009), an opulent opera in a run-down public space by a motorway between Mülheim and Essen. Recent projects include the procession Kunsthaus Kalk (2020) and their ongoing temporary inner-city laboratory for collective, experiential learning and transdisciplinary exchange, Floating Berlin (2018–). Raumlabor is part of the model project Haus der Statistik in Berlin (2016–), which is a cooperative urban development, using the existing vacancy as a catalyst for an innovative process. Recent awards include the Berlin Award, the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, the Curry Stone Design Prize and the Core77 Design Award.

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