Small Spaces @ V&A Museum

Friday, August 06, 2010

I went to the V&A Museum last week to see Small Spaces, an exhibition of seven small structures built by architects in the V&A's galleries.

It was fascinating. I love small, cosy, cute spaces so the whole idea appealed to me.

The structure I had most wanted to see was a tea-house by Terunobu Fujimori. Raised up on four spindly, tree-branch like legs, you climb a little ladder to enter the teahouse. Inside, the ceiling is covered with tiny pieces of charred wood arranged in a parallel pattern with a simple tea-set. It was utterly charming.

Architects from Mumbai built a structure based on in-between spaces in Mumbai which become home to people in the city. They live in the cracks of the city, between, say, a warehouse and a factory, covering above with a the ceiling of sheet metal and making a home.

Norwegian architects built a four-storey walk-in bookcase, made of smooth Scandinavian wood with two in-built seats covered in animal furs. I wanted to stay there all day reading. Another staircase structure had lots of nooks hidden behind curtains. Climbing it was like my own mini-drama: what would be behind each drape?

In addition to the structures, models and drawings of structures that were not made were on display. I loved an Austrian architect's structure which would have had people walking on grains, with small pools of water around them and gently swaying stalks of wheat and barely suspended from the ceiling.

I also loved a structure in which you lie face down on the floor in a dug out groove, with a small screen under your eyes which shows someone else's viewpoint as they walk around the museum. It was a real shame this was not built, I really hope it will be.

The exhibition showed how architecture affects us all, making us smile, making us unhappy, and inspiring our curiosity.