Excerpt: The Structural Field by Neri&Hu Design and Research Office is a portable and scalable installation that defies expectations for a temporary bamboo frame. To evoke a sense of the exterior, 1,000 vertical bamboo members are arranged in the pavilion’s design in a regular grid. Visitors are welcomed to begin their journey through a series of framed views, sporadic bamboo layering, and areas beyond through a small entry.
[Text as submitted by architect] The concept for the Camerich Pavilion stems from working through a number of dualities: nature/artifice, chaos/sanctuary, objects/the viewer, and tradition/innovation. Responding to the brand’s invitation to rethink exhibition design within the context of international furniture fairs, Neri&Hu explores the possibilities of creating a Structural Field, as a way not necessarily to arrive at a harmonious synthesis but perhaps to hold these seeming contradictions in suspension for the duration of this temporary installation.
The choice of bamboo intersects these sets of dualities. As an abundant, fast-growing, renewable natural material, bamboo in Asia and many parts of the world is also one of the oldest building materials. Although modern technology has expanded the construction application of bamboo, the lignified fibrous stalks, with their joints and organic profile, often retain marks of natural growth. In the pavilion design, Neri&Hu sets over 1,000 vertical bamboo members on a regular grid to allude to a sense of the exterior. Through a small entry, visitors are invited to begin a journey through a series of framed views, intermittent layering of bamboo, and spaces beyond.
Within the varying density of the field, the relationship between objects and spectators is constantly shifting. As the exhibition did not provide pedestals or special display mechanisms for the furniture pieces, scenes of everyday life—small sitting areas, the living room, the bedroom, contemplation niches, etc.—are fully integrated within the path of the viewer.
At times, the narrow and winding walkway gives the viewer a glimpse of the vignettes ahead, maintaining a distance between the spectator and the objects. In the public areas where the field opens up, the visiting spectator becomes embedded as part of the domestic scene, fully occupying the setting where the presence of furniture encourages user interaction. In other words, “at home” with the objects, the spectator takes on the role of a participant, on display as part of the exhibition. The transformation from the role of a “spectator” to a “character” on view and back allows the visitor to be immersed not only in the phenomenon of the field but also in one’s projected spaces, a stage for life.
As a temporary structure, the Structural Field is also portable and scalable. In order to bring the pavilion to other international fair sites, special connection details and modular unit types were designed. In addition to meeting the requirements of assembling and disassembling in a matter of days, the particular setting of exhibiting world-class furniture and design also inspired the designers to push the envelope of building craftsmanship and technology. Embedded steel plates, single-direction dovetailing of bamboo members, and the overall structural design for deflection and slender ratio are some of the ways we hope to exceed the conventional formal expectations of a temporary bamboo structure.