Collection: part 1

Exhibition Review

Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture - Design Museum


It is one of  several exhibitions shown in Design Museum in London. It gives possibility to go through life  and works of Louis Kahn, the American modernist architect. The exhibition is divided into six main themes in the context of which his work can be examined: city, science, landscape, home, community, present. It examines his works in all these aspects and is organized chronologically, so that the audience can see the development and the factors which shaped works of Louis Kahn. The exposition is highly diversified. It presents photos, sketches, drawings, models and also an interview with the architect. It all helps in understanding of the exhibition, especially for a person who is not tied to the profession and for whom designing of a building or some urban space is a complete abstraction. It is possible to see how a design develops from fast sketch through model to the final realization. It also makes one aware what problems architects have to straggle with and haw many factors their projects are depending on: community, space, location, materials, purpose. And these are only the most general problems.

The thematic and chronological arrangement makes the exhibition well organized. The exhibits are located in relatively large spaces so it is possible to concentrate on each of them. Without it, the reception of the objects would be difficult. Regardless of its subject an exhibition should deliver the climate of what is shown, which compliments the whole show. This one definitely has it.

The greatest attention is drown by a huge model of City of Tower, which occupies the prominent place in the second room. The model which is made of wood and steel definitely stands out from number of drawings’ photographs and other photos. This spectacular model can be seen from all sides and its structure reflects modernist and futuristic visions of architecture. It seems to me, that such exhibition is very difficult to organize.

There are not glamorous paintings or monumental sculptures which can be seen I one to one scale – as they really look. Architectural models are neither spectacular nor they arouse strong emotions as we watch them in a small scale. A viewer has to complete a large part of a project in his mind, has to imagine the real scale, space, materials. And for some it is not easy. Somebody who is not interested in architecture will probably pass indifferently by a small model of even fantastic and revolutionary building.

In my opinion, the model of City of Tower points out exactly to this problem. Watching some visitors of the museum I observed that most of them often go by passing a glance at small models, but they stop at City of Tower and start reading about the model, about the idea it wants to communicate. I suspect that many visitors could have left the exhibition remembering only one exibit.

For me, after enormous and shocking Tate Modern, finding myself on a quiet, intimate exhibition focusing on one specific topic, was a dramatic change. It seems to me, that the more specific its subject, the better job it does.

Despite huge amount of specialized information regarding the profession of architect I was able to understand the overall idea and  problem it was concerned with. 

Architecture, as an applied art, works or not in the urban space, in its definite function, context, illumination etc.

One can ask a question, why bother with the exhibition about architects and architecture when completed work 

exists outside the exhibition hall?

In my opinion, the exhibition of this character tells a lot about the artist himself, about the process of creation, inspirations, stages of work – about unusual things. It is just worth to know.

I do not know however, if it will help in the reception of the final work. It is an age-old problem, if the knowledge about artist helps or interferes with the reception of his works. You have to be incredible visionary while making a model to forsee in your mind the effectiveness and final result of such being in reality.



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