9 Oct 2017

A Hall for Hull: A brief insight in to the work of Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Felice Varini

How simple structures and neutrality can transform a familiar space

So what is A Hall For Hull with Trois Points De Vue? 

A Hall for Hull with Trois Points De Vue is a joint commission between the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Hull 2017. The artists commissioned to create the work are Chile-based architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Swiss artist Felice Varini, who have designed 16 galvanised steel columns in a grid formation in front of Hull Minster.

The title Trois Points De Vue refers to three points around the square. There are four rows of columns, that create three “avenues” across the square and therefore, three views that Felice has used to create the artworks on the columns.

The columns are a response to the historic heart of Hull and are part of the Hull 2017 Look Up programme of public art installations. Each of the columns are inhabitable with one entry opening designed by Pezo von Ellrichshausen with the work of Felice Varini redefining the columns through circular geometric patterns. Visual and physical contradictions merge as visitors first encounter a series of imposing, static steel columns from a distance, but as they move closer, the perforations create a feeling of lightness. 

Hull 2017 and RIBA have been working closely with Hull Minster to develop the project with the final built structure launching on 2 October. 

Pezo von Ellrichshausen 

Pezo von Ellrichshausen is an art and architecture studio built in 2002 located in Concepcion, southern Chile. Created by Chilean architects (and couple) Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Mauricio Pezo, the pair also use the space as a home and office which overlooks both the city and the Pacific Ocean. 

As well as living and working together, the couple both teach regularly and have curated at the Chilean Pavilion at the 2008 Venice Biennale. 

Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen © Ana Crovetto

The pair have said they prefer to “consider” their work rather than “designing”, focusing on simple shapes and structures to enable the viewer to look beyond the design to embrace familiar spaces. 

One example, is from their installation as part of the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts in London in 2014. For this work, they focused on creating a structure where the movement and proximity of other people within the space, enhanced the experience of being in the space itself. 

For other designs, such as Solo House, designed by Sofia, located in Cretas, Spain, there was an emphasis on the need to appreciate the nature surrounding the work. The structure of the design used nature as a way to complement the space, from the sky, clouds and the hills surrounding it.   

The empty stone-paved square is challenged by the size and disposition of a regular open grid and each column is in fact, an inhabitable room with a single entrance pointed to a different direction. 

Mauricio Pezo & Sofia von Ellrichshausen  

In terms of materials, they don’t claim to always use one type consistently. Due to the sheer volume of earthquakes in their hometown, concrete has become a material often used, although the use of natural materials is also highly important. However, A Hall For Hull, is made from steel, with each column measuring the same size at 6m high and 2m in diameter. 

The cylindrical designs seen in a A Hall for Hull, have too, been featured in their previous work. One example is the maze constructed at the Venice Giardini where, each cylinder was painted teal, steel framed and invited visitors in to a series of 10 overlapping structures. Hall For Hull is similar in the sense that you can to, enter the structures and experience the work from alternate viewpoints. 

When commenting on A Hall For Hull, Mauricio Pezo & Sofia von Ellrichshausen said: “This installation forms a temporary hypostyle room without a roof, with massive but almost immaterial columns barely open to the sky and to the immediate surroundings. The empty stone-paved square is challenged by the size and disposition of a regular open grid and each column is in fact, an inhabitable room with a single entrance pointed to a different direction.” 

 

Felice Varini 

The columns for A Hall For Hull, are redefined by the artwork of artist Felice Varini.

Varini is a Swiss artist based in Paris who explores the illusions of geometry through eye-deceiving photographic techniques, together with the tradition of pictorial representation.

Felice Varini © Chiara Tiraboschi

Felice Varini © Chiara Tiraboschi

Generally, Felice works with and against the space to create forms. Typically, Felice will use one colour and simple shapes, allowing nature to do the rest of the work. The artist generally frees himself from the framework of painting by moving his work in to large spaces… he has said he considers himself a painter rather than an installation artist. 

An example of his past work included transforming the space on Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseille into an optical illusion.

Here, Varini uses bold, bright colours to recreate the space, creating the feeling of movement through geometric patterns. When designing Varini claims he “roams through the space, noting its architecture, materials, history and function.” He then designates a “specific vantage point for viewing from which the intervention takes shape.” 

Varini’s exhibition Suite d’éclats (Shattering Suite) included a number of shapes scattered around the space at the Hangar à Bananes (HAB Gallery) in île de Nantes. These include squares, crosses and even triangles that join to create squares themselves. Also featured are hypnotising circles that move with you, almost like you’re integrated into the design itself. 

The temporary intervention designed for Hall for Hull in Trinity Square by Pezo Von Ellrichshausen and Felice Varini is now on display at Trinity Square until 12 November. You can check out more of the artists’ work online. 

Felice Varini
Pezo von Ellrichshausen. 

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