Since 2018, we have created series of inflatable art pieces by transforming spaces into large toys.
Our Soft-spaces are series of spatial interventions that are comprised by large interactive inflatable installations fused with animations, special lighting effects and music. The combination of these spatial element may allow our visitor to relax and to immerse into the experience that we have tailored.
Our visitors may bounce, slide, prank with each other within our Soft-spaces. Young visitors are encouraged to take risks at these safe environments and create adventures. Grown-ups are very likely to find themselves to be children again. We hope that our Soft-spaces art experiences may allow anyone at all ages to relax and to be joyful.
Architecture and Happiness
We began to learn why parks are necessary and how they must be happy places. We must start to learn about our children and how they would play in parks. We should design from the children perspectives. We have spent the past eighteen months – upon the commission by the Hong Kong Government – to conduct a study on how we may improve Hong Kong playgrounds for our future generation. Through-out this study, and together with our team that includes product designers and children psychologist, we have produced a 200,000 words, 13 volumes report for the Hong Kong Government.
Fish Tank & Fish
Manfred spoke of an analogy in TEDx Shenzhen 2019, that may be paralleled to architects’ roles today : we realized that it is the quality of the water that contribute to the well being of the fishes inside an aquarium(the people). But instead of perfecting the water quality, we spend more and more of our time articulating the form of the aquarium(the building).
An aquarium is there to house the fish, without healthy fish, an aquarium is only an artifact.
Architecture should be sturdy, according to Vitruvius, Architecture should be an art of synthesizing shelter with aesthetics. For practitioners of architecture, we struggle to juggle ideals against structures, materiality, budgets and the environment. In short, architecture is serious business, and struggle we shall.
For a very long time, we have been objectifying architecture and sometime forgotten that architecture should be at the service of humanity. Not all architecture are churches, airports, museums and for the elites.
Ultimately, if architecture should be at the service of humanity, for the “little-man”, coined Alvar Aalto, perhaps our work as architects can be denominated/boiled-down to its core: to exercise the skills that we have acquired, for the service of humanity?
A few years ago, apart from our professional works, we began to question how physical space may bring people happiness in the most direct ways. We wonder how would people be if the spaces that surrounds them is soft and ductile. We wonder whether a soft space may allow one to be calm free, liberated and to be in touch with our innocence again. Only the liberated are truly happy.
Architecture as Toy, Toy as Architecture
“Soft Space” is series of experiments that we have conducted not only to explore the nexus of architecture’s missions, but to explore the boundaries of art, toy and architecture. Children can create joy and happiness from a simple pen and paper, a piece of clay. A piece of toy itself does not bring happiness; the interactions between a child and the toy bring happiness.
The large inflatable architectural “toys” that we have created are very simple in nature: they even lacked functions. Our vision is for people to appropriate themselves against these simple large spaces and reinvent themselves again. Once upon a time, when you give these people a piece of paper, or a piece of plasticine, they would create wonders and they would be deliriously happy, they would create joy out of the simple and mundane, and these simple and mundane subject are toys, or arts.
Our “Soft Spaces” have been touring in China for the past two years (Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Xiongan, Hebei). Each “Soft Space” were slightly different thematically “Fairyland Playscape”(2018), “Fish, Cat, Fairyland”(2019), and “Art-Toy” (2019), “Naughty Hills”(2020).
CLIENT \ Groundwork (self-financed), Shenzhen Design Society, K11
ADDRESS \ Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hebei, China
ARCHITECT \ Groundwork, Architects + Associates Ltd. www.groundworkarchitect.com
PHOTOS \ Fiona Bao [email protected]