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New Public Installation By So? Architecture And Ideas Opens At The Royal Academy Of Arts


Today marks the opening of Unexpected Hillby SO? Architecture and Ideas. The installation  is a bold urban intervention made from ceramics that invites the public to occupy it over the summer  months  until  20  September.  Commissioned  by  Turkishceramics  and  the  Royal Academy of Arts, Unexpected Hillis located at the threshold of the Royal Academy’sGradeII listed Burlington Gardens. SO? Architecture and Ideas was selected from a design competition between four up-andcoming design practices, which included OS31, bureau de change and Scott Whitby Studio. Each design was assessed by a judging panel which consisted of Alan Stanton RA, Stanton Williams Architects; Dr Peter Oakley, Royal Collegeof Art; Kate Goodwin, Royal Academy of Arts; and Bahadir Kayan, Chairman of Turkishceramics. The architects were invited to submit proposals foran installation within the entrance spaces of  the  Royal  Academy  of  Arts  at  Burlington  Gardens  that  responded  to  the  concept  of ‘transformation’  –  both  of  a  building  and  a  material. The  theme  of  transformation  was inspired  by  the  Royal  Academy’s  own  impending  physical  transformation  through  a redevelopment with David Chipperfield Architects. Embracing the unique opportunity to ‘intervene’ with the building before it undergoes major refurbishment, the architects were asked to physically and conceptually transform how it is perceived, questioning its formal arrangement, evoking the legacy of the building’s past or perhaps imagining a different future. Following on from the RA’s ‘Meaning in Materials’ event series last autumn, the architects were encouraged to reconsider traditional ceramics. The  panel  was  impressed  with  SO?  Architecture  and  Ideas’  Unexpected  Hill as  a  public gesture  reaching  beyond  the  building  to  the  surrounding  neighbourhood,  and  its  use  of ceramics in an unusual and imaginative  way.  The design explores how  an intrinsically 2D material, most commonly implemented as a decorativeelement, can create a 3D structure intended for public use. TheUnexpected Hillcreates a dialogue with the 19th century façade of Burlington Gardens, transforming a threshold space. Alan  Stanton  RA,  Stanton  Williams  Architects,  commented,  “Each  of  the architects’ proposals  showed  ambition  and  imagination.  We  felt  that  SO?  Architecture  and  Ideas’ proposal was distinctive in that it engaged not only with the Royal Academy's building but also  the  surrounding  urban  fabric. Its  intriguing  sculptural form  will  attract  passers-by  and potentially form a "stage" for events including theBurlington Gardens Festival on 4 July. The multiple  geometric  forms  are  an  innovative  way  of  exploiting  the  materiality  and  special qualities of ceramics."

Kate Goodwin, Head of Architecture and Drue Heinz Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, commented: “SO? Architecture and Ideas’ installation is a playful intervention that transforms a currently underutilised space into a much needed  place in Mayfair where people can sit and  take  time  out,  or  explore  and  come  together.  Ceramic  tiles  become form  rather  than decoration and create a structure which both rises from the ground and sits in dialogue with the 19th century façade of Burlington Gardens. It raises debate about how threshold spaces can be inhabited to enliven the streets.” The  geometric  forms  of  Unexpected  Hill are  inspired  by  2D  ceramic  patterns  found  in architecture throughout history. Sevince Bayrak, co-founder of SO? Architecture and Ideas, explained: “We manipulated a geometrical pattern oftriangles to create a 3D form. As an example of using geometry to convert a 2D object into a 3D space, the structural principles of Muqarnas help us create a hill, the highest point of the 3D structure, which will be a tunnel that visitors can pass through.” Muqarnas is a decorative device in traditional Islamic architecture that utilises ceramics in radial symmetry. The geometric columns will be cladded in an unusual ceramic tile, which is currently the lightest ceramic in the world. The installation transforms from day to night as translucent ceramics illuminate the hill during the  evening  hours  and  allows  visitors  to  stop  and  enjoy  the  Mayfair  surroundings  during London’s summer months. Public participation is an important element of this project, therefore a number of initiatives have  been  planned  to  engage  the  public.  Firstly,  an interactive  wall  designed  by  Tamer Nakişçı invites creative exploration of ceramic tiles andgeometry inside Burlington Gardens. In addition, a programme of activities and performances will take place on and around the installation at 2.30pm on Sundays 12,19, 26 July and 6, 13, 20 September. Bahadir Kayan, Chairman of Turkishceramics, said: “Turkishceramics is delighted to support the Architecture Programme at the Royal Academy this year. We are thrilled to be working with such a prestigious institution and the commission for Burlington Gardens is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the creative applicationof Turkish ceramics. We’re excited about this new public destination in London this summer.

Open to the public: Friday 3 July 2015 – 20 September Admission free 
Free events programme: 
SO? Architecture and Ideas 

Saturday 4 July, 3.30pm
Join the architects on their installation for an informal discussion as part of the ‘Burlington Gardens Festival’. They will share their design inspiration and response to London’s urban fabric as well as some of their exciting new projects in other parts of the world. Burlington Gardens Festival is taking place in partnership with Brown’s London Art Weekend 
Drawing the Unexpected 
Sundays 19 July and 13 September, 2.30–4pm 
Put pencil to paper and let your imagination run wild at this drawing workshop run by Jeanette Barnes, as she guides you through our ceramic landscape to discover new aspects of the Unexpected Hill.Drawing materials provided. 

The Acrobatic City 
Sunday 26 July, 2.30–3.30pm with Matt Mulligan 
Sunday 6 September 2.30–3.30pm with Mimbre 
Witness the Unexpected Hilltransformed into an acrobatic theatre stage with aspectacular display of movement and agility, and discover new ways to interact with the space around 
Ceramic Stories 
Sunday 12 July 2.30–3.30pm with Carl Merry 
Sunday 20 September 2.30–3.30pm with Vanessa Woolf 
Come and listen to our storytellers spin the Unexpected Hillinto a whole new setting as it provides the backdrop for tales, folklore and adventure, from past and future worlds, which will enthral children and adults alike. 

All details correct at time of publishing but may be subject to change. Please check RA website for more details: www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/unexpected-hill