Office dA | icon 052 | October 2007

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words Beatrice Galilee

A wall turns into a dome in a striking act of structural metamorphosis by Boston-based architecture and design practice Office dA. The installation is part of a public arts project for the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, which commissioned artists and architects to create works in the city’s Harbor Islands area.

Office dA partner Nader Tehrani chose to build the piece, named Voromuro after a type of mathematical model, in a 19th-century island fortress, Fort Warren on Georges Island. The installation occupies a vaulted brick space, lit by a single tiny window, built to hold the city’s gunpowder in the American civil war.

The sculpture is intricately fabricated with individual pieces of acrylic, which are folded to create cylindrical cells snapped together with 16,000 rivets. The cell elements grow and change shape as the form twists from vertical surface to dome in a single sweeping gesture.

The elegant structure moves around the room, creating a promenade for the visitor and reflecting light. “It’s like an ice cube,” says Tehrani. “It catches the sun and becomes the only source of light. The room is extremely dark – so dark your eyes take 30 or 60 seconds to adjust – and then it emerges from the dark. Once you see it, it begins to glow.” For many young digital practices, such temporary structures are the only source of construction, but for Office dA the project was used as an exercise in manufacturing techniques and experimentation, taking the practice’s theories out
of the realm of the book and into the public sphere. “You can demonstrate a rigour around the theory and the form as much as you like,” says Tehrani, “but ultimately, when you release it to the public it’s all about the effect it has on the room and how they feel in that space.” The Boston Harbour Islands project will be on show until 8 October.

images John Horner

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