Twist, Tie, Repeat
Students wove a spell at the Aedes Pfefferberg gallery in Berlin
Meghan Edwards -- Interior Design, 6/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
The halogen glow from the four smaller cocoons was a hearth reference, part of the installation's "communal living" theme.
In a brainstorming session at Germany's Akademie der Bildenden Künste München, 52 undergraduates and graduates in the interior architecture program defined what they considered the three essential modes of human existence: retreat, communal living, and self-expression. The students then had to translate those modes into a spatial experience on a 1:1 scale. It took four months to design and construct the ethereal netting and cocoons of Der Dritte Raum, meaning the third room, as part of an interdepartmental course taught by Maria Auböck of Auböck + Kárász Landschaftsarchitekten und Architekten, Peter Sapp of Querkraft Architekten, and Carmen and Urs Greutmann of Greutmann Bolzern Designstudio. The final step of the assignment was a field trip to Berlin to reinstall the environment at the gallery Aedes Pfefferberg.
Inside the largest cocoon, which stood 10 feet high, a cushion of cotton batting represented "retreat."
Research into mesh-making, patterning, and connector types had led the students to the common nylon zip ties used to bundle electrical wires. The professors divided their charges into six teams, with four devoted to production—since the installation was made almost entirely of the zip ties, that meant nearly 17,000 hours of knotting and weaving by hand. (The other two teams handled the very beginning and end of the process: design and public relations.) Trial and error eventually produced several large cocoons, their interiors lined with cotton batting to represent "retreat." For "communal living," the students stretched zip-tie netting over clusters of plastic exercise balls sturdy enough to support lounging visitors, then added halogen spotlights with a gentle glow meant to recall a hearth. Four smaller perches were for "self-expression." All the forms were supported by nothing other than zip ties attached to steel rods running right below the gallery's ceiling.
Terrazzo flooring remained untouched.
Auböck likens the forms to both "fluffy cotton balls" and "spiky sea urchins." Either way, they were a birthday present, marking the academy's 200th anniversary.
Photography by Oliver Sachs.
THROUGHOUT PANDUIT CORP.: ZIP TIES. ZUMTOBEL: LIGHTING CONSULTANT. SEEBERGER FRIEDL UND PARTNER: STRUCTURAL ENGINEER. BUSCH-JAEGER ELEKTRO: ELECTRICAL ENGINEER. ARCELORMITTAL: STEELWORK.