Architect Lai unveils Cartoonish Metropolis

photograph 'courtesy Jimenez Lai'.

Chicago-based architecture practice Bureau Spectacular has transformed The Architecture Foundation’s Project Space in London into an inhabitable installation and imaginary worlds.

Called 3 Little Worlds, the installation is a trademark mixture of built structure and cartoon.

Founded by emerging architect Jimenez Lai in 2008, Bureau Spectacular is a studio of architectural affairs, who describe their strategy as one of making “absurd stories about fake realities that invite enticing possibilities”.

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Fascinated by the interplay between storytelling and building, absurdity and speculation, the practice weaves architectural design and theory into comic strips that pop from the page into the real world as installations and small buildings.

“This installation is a cartoonish blow up of a fragment inside the Cartoonish Metropolis. It is a comic book someone can walk into, a window into another reality,” said Jimenez Lai.

Combining a wall painting, a specially commissioned graphic novel, and a three-part modular ‘home,’ the installation will present slices of life from inside Lai’s Cartoonish Metropolis.

The three reconfigurable ‘rooms’ will explore the contemporary performance of living in public, by suggesting themselves as real-world frames from a comic strip.

The installation, which runs until August 25,  can be thought of as an abstract hotel, with Lai himself calling it home over the London Festival of Architecture period, during which he will produce a mural over the walls of the Project Space to introduce further characters from the Cartoonish Metropolis to the gallery.

Later in the exhibition a series of invited guests will take up residence in exchange for hosting a range of public events – from film-screenings to dinners, lectures to discos, workshops to art works.

The exhibition follows the recent publication of Lai’s novel, Citizens of No Place, and his award of the 2012 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers.

The installation will be fabricated by Joe Swift and Remi Stickland of the Redundant Architects Recreation Association (R.A.R.A.).

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