Welcome to architecture! Actually, you have been here, inside architecture, for a while now, even since you were born. Architecture is every space created by people: rooms, houses, streets, parks, squares and the whole city. At this exhibition, space offers experiences to your senses. Explore space with your eyes, your ears, your skin and your entire body. How are you feeling here?
There are huge gaps in Estonia between the high quality of professional architecture and broader understanding of it. Spatial education should fill the void in the education of children who will be the future decision-makers as well as the customers commissioning new architecture. It is a well-known fact that good architecture usually requires a clever customer. We have actually taken the first steps in educating students: the state curriculum includes the elective course “Architecture as a Living Environment” for secondary school students and the hobby school of architecture for school children and youngsters embarked on its 10th season with its teachers (architects) conducting visiting courses also in general education schools. The School of Architecture classes take place in the Museum of Architecture where pupils can experience direct contact with architectural models, exhibitions and the historical museum building itself – limestone masterpiece built in early 20th century.
The new permanent exhibition at the Estonian Museum of Architecture was thus a logical continuation to teach children to explore the space and grasp the essence of architecture. Established in the vaulted basement of the museum pursuant to the concept and teaching experience of the School of Architecture leaders Kadri Klementi, Kaire Nomm and Katrin Koov, it is an environment providing sensations for various senses and inviting people to experience architecture with their whole body. Light design plays an important role at the exhibition, where the play of light and shadows draws out the old vaults and red brick columns of the salt storage – all covered with a permanent crust of salt. Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are greeted by a unique spatial installation’Reflexio’ (designed by Grete Veskiväli, Krista Dintere and Ruta Palionyte), where a mirror floor and game of lights expands the boundaries of the viewer’s perception and the concept of physical space. A totally different experience is offered by the forest of ribbons hanging from the ceiling. Walking through it you will find a sphere – a safe nest for being on your own. Various display items direct children to identify different building materials and constructions, think about the ‘circulatory system’ of a house and the specific smells that relate to various rooms. There are tubes to crawl through and an animated book where rooms, streets and the entire city come alive as the pages are turned. The sectional model of the museum building itself is a good educational object showing the different constructive systems used in every floor which forms the skeleton of the house. The exhibition leads children to thinking about space by looking inside and beyond houses in the urban and natural environment. Video interviews with professionals dealing with the creation of physical space like architect, interior designer, engineer, builder, virtual reality designer etc add the informative layer to the exhibition reflecting the multifaceted nature of architecture.
Also the students of the School of Architecture had a say in the design of the exhibition by talking about the spaces that they enjoy to be in and the aspects that they find interesting in architecture. Several objects were designed according to their ideas – like the big wooden sphere where one can creep inside and listen to the different sounds of nature. Also the very simple soft cubes one can build a tower or a wall or just throw around are very popular among the young visitors – sometimes the most basic things are enough.
The exhibition deals with the various facets of creating architecture from the concept and materials to the emergence of the actual spatial experience. In the authors’ vision, the playful attitude to architecture accompanied by direct experience allows young people to develop a natural interest and body memory that will draw their attention to the surroundings also in the future, arouse questions and invite them to debate on good spatial solutions and improved organisation of their future living environment – in areas where it might need instruction or renewal.
The educational exhibition “Explore the Space!” for children and youngsters is the first of its kind in Estonia providing a significant building block for the structure of more extensive spatial education development activities.
Idea and design: Kadri Klementi, Katrin Koov, Kaire Nomm
Technical realisation: Motor
Illustrator: Teele Strauss (Motor)
Graphic designer: Maris Kaskmann (Motor)
Exhibition construction: Siltau Systems
Coordinator: Triin Ojari (Estonian Museum of Architecture)
Lighting management: Vallo Rähn (Illumination Team)
Installation Reflexio: Grete Veskiväli, Krista Dintere, Ruta Palionyte
„Reflexio“ is an imaginary space which challenges the perceptual bases of spatial representation. The installation idea was created during the Baltic Light Chain summerschool in 2015.
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