Emerging Architecture Awards

Honourable mention December 2004

2b Architectes

Swiss pavilion for ARCO

Madrid, Spain
In 2002 and 2003, the national flag formed the parti of the temporary Swiss pavilion built by 2b Architectes in a courtyard of the Conde Duque, Madrid for ARCO, the international art fair. A square cross was created by placing one rectangular box over another in the middle of the court. Using light steel construction, the upper box, which contained the exhibition area, was cantilevered symmetrically out from the lower one, which itself projected on either side of the upper one as two small square courts.
From the top of these courts, and the base of the exhibition area, strips of red canvas related the temporary piece with the top of the rather grim ground floor of the surrounding reddish stone Conde Duque, creating a festive space round the central pavilion, striped with shadows and infused with cheering red. Inside, the rectangles were white, neutral, anonymous, allowing people and exhibits to dominate. Canvas was chosen for its practicality and economy, also in respect for tradition, for it has been used to provide shade in Spain since the Romans used it in the velaria of their amphitheatres. In the upstairs exhibition area, movable floor-to-ceiling louvres allowed the space to be converted from self-contained white space to a translucent box, in which the outer world could be sensed, abstracted, through opal acrylic panel cladding. This box hovered over the carpet of canvas strips and, at night, could become a great lantern, animating the surrounding space and throwing shadows of the canvas strips down into the surrounding courtyard as the sun did during the day.
The jury was impressed by the economical way in which memorable spaces of very different kinds had been achieved, and by the rather un-Swiss insouciance and jollity of the whole affair, which was in the end generated by very Swiss rigour and understanding of materiality.

2b Architectes, Lausanne
Project team
Philippe BĂ©boux, Stephanie Bender, Maurizio Tempesta
Associate architect
Patricia Leal Laredo, Madrid
Structural engineer
Mantilleri & Schwarz
Marco de Francesco