“Barnum City”: circus architecture and the appropriation of territory

Point H^UT celebrates its grand opening after two years of renovation works with an exhibition dedicated to architecture inspired by circus halls and merry-go-rounds, focusing on their ability to transform their environment.

 

Tiger & Turtle © Heike Mutter & Ulrich Genth

Tiger & Turtle © Heike Mutter & Ulrich Genth

 

The small town of Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, in central France, has very recently inaugurated Point H^UT, a new social centre dedicated to architecture events and workshops, occupying the grounds of a former industrial site. Among the many events and exhibitions programmed is Barnum City, a reflection on fairground architecture concerning the occupation and transformation of surrounding territory. Ranging from circus halls to merry-go-rounds, the exhibition aims at the constructive diversity of these dream-like architectural objects.

Originally produced by the Maison de l’architecture et de la ville Nord-Pas-de-Calais, and curated by Odile Werner and Sophie Trelcat, Barnum City – Architecture Foraine will be open until June 11, 2015, as part of Point H^UT’s official inauguration programme of events.

 


 

Battersea Power Station © Airstudio & AZC

Battersea Power Station © Airstudio & AZC

 

In London, the old Battersea Power Station is reinvented as a museum of architecture, designed by Atelier Zündel Cristea. AZC imagine a journey around the factory that wraps it with a gigantic rollercoaster-like transparent mesh, maintaining the still impressive testimony of a by-gone industry.

In Chicago, the James Corner Field Operations office -in partnership with nArchitects– redraw the Navy Pier, reconquering the shores of Lake Michigan. In Evian, a few years ago, Patrick Bouchain built the wooden Grange au Lac, the 1,200-seat concert hall ran by Mstislav Rostropovich. Whatever their scale or their mission, these projects are all based on fair stalls and machineries from which they borrow techniques, form or even norms.

 

Gow Nippon Wheel © MIR & UNStudio

Gow Nippon Wheel © MIR & UNStudio

 

It is this theme of fairgrounds and circus’ worlds to which the MAV devotes its spring exhibition. Under the title Barnum City, twenty contemporary architecture projects will be presented. The exhibition is certainly about construction issues, but especially about the construction that is dedicated to the discovery and promotion of a territory dominated by the user’s physical sensations, such as the watchtower design amidst the palm grove of Elche, in Spain. Designed by Sanaa, the installation consists of a long suspended pedestrian walkway to cross and look over the tops of the palm trees of this Unesco World Heritage Site.

 

Other kind of structures, mobile ones, decline a specific architectural design in exchange for the ability to be assembled and disassembled at will, and for taking over a specific territory for a given period of time. In this manner we can understand MuMo, the mini-museum of contemporary art designed by Adam Kalkin, or the flexible and inflatable theater by Hans -Walter Müller. The event also aims to show the institutions dedicated to the very teaching of circus arts, incorporating specific facilities such as permanent theaters  and rehearsal rooms with their shapes adapted to practice this art.

 

Finally, the merry-go-round  finds a new youth, as seen in  the new Marine Worlds Carrousel in Nantes, or Jane’s Carousel, dating from 1922, situated in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn and which was covered in glazing by Atelier Jean Nouvel. Both cases make visible the transformation of territories in which they settle.

 

 

Pompidou mobile © Cyrille Weiner

Pompidou mobile © Cyrille Weiner

 

Turda Salt Mine © Pro Atrium + Contact Studio

Turda Salt Mine © Pro Atrium + Contact Studio

Tepee © Bruno Delamain_AACMA

Tepee © Bruno Delamain_AACMA

Le CNAC vue de nuit ©ARM

Le CNAC vue de nuit © ARM


 

Works present in the exhibition

 

Chapiteaux revisités (Circus Tent revisited)

Zénith de Paris, Paris (1985) – Chaix & Morel (FR) – Client : Ministère de la Culture
La grange au lac, Évian (1993) – Patrick Bouchain + cabinet BAOS (FR) – Client : BSN (Danone)

Exploration physique du territoire et de l’architecture
(Physical exploration of architecture and territory)

Tiger & Turtle – Magic Mountain, Duisbourg (2011) – Heike Mutter et Ulrich Genth (DE) – Client : Ville de Duisbourg
Mirador pour la Palmeraie, Elche (2009) – STAR Strategies + architecture (NL) – Client : Ville d’Elche
Mirador pour la Palmeraie, Elche (2009) – SANAA (JP) – Client : Ville d’Elche
Navy Pier, Chicago (2011) – James Corner Field Operations + nArchitects (USA) – Client : The Centennial Vision
Turda Salt Mine (2010) – Pro Atrium (RO)
Musée d’architecture, Londres (2013) – Atelier Zündel Cristea (FR) – Client : Archtriumph
Gow Nippon Moon (2012) – UNStudio (NL) – Client : Ferris Wheel Investment Co. Ltd
Hôtel 6 étoiles dans le parc du Mercantour (1983) – Guy Rottier (FR)

Montage – Démontage (Assembling – Disassembling)

Mumo (2010) – Adam Kalkin (USA) – Client : Fondation L’art à l’enfance
Centre Pompidou Mobile (2011) – Construire – Patrick Bouchain & Loïc Julienne (FR) – Client : Centre Pompidou
Tepee (1992) – Chaix & Morel (FR) – Client : Réunion des Musées Nationaux
La Bulle, théâtre mobile – Hans-Walter Müller+ Agence Scèn&Act (FR) – Client : Addim70
Les grandes tables de l’île, Paris (2011) 1024 Architecture + EXYZT (FR) – Client : Les grandes tables + SAEM Val de Seine

Manèges (Merry-go-Round)

Quiet Motion (2013) – Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec (FR) – Client : BMWi
Jane’s Carrousel, New York (2011) – Ateliers Jean Nouvel (FR) – Client : Jane’s Carousel
Carrousel des mondes marins, Nantes (2012) – La Machine + Nicole Condorcet et Christophe Theilmann (FR) – Client : SPL Le Voyage à Nantes

L’enseignement des arts du cirque (The teaching of circus arts)

Académie Fratellini, Saint-Denis (2003) – Construire – Patrick Bouchain & Loïc Julienne (FR) – Client : Cirque Fratellini
Centre National des Arts du Cirque, Châlons-en-Champagne (2011) – ARM Architecture + NP2F (FR) – Client : OPPIC
CIRC Pôle National des Arts du Cirque, Auch (2012) – ADH architectes (FR) – Client : Ville d’Auch (FR)

 

 


 

Practical Information

 

Barnum City – Architectures Foraines
April 18, 2015 / June 11, 2015

Point H^UT
20 rue des Grands Mortiers,
37700 Saint-Pierre-des-Corps

 


 

Exhibition description adapted from original.
News source: Architecture Aujourd’hui