When a Bubble Becomes a Building
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Commenting on the brevity and precariousness of life, Erasmus likened man to a soap bubble (homo bulla), a vain, delusional creature who exerts much effort and time to erect “walls of bubbles” to insulate its base vulnerabilities with intricate systems of culture and knowledge. The barefaced fact of one’s finitude is, as Sartre facetiously and accurately noted, “a fart in a soap bubble”–to shamelessly exploit the metaphor–the noxious truth of extinction thinly veiled by the seeming vibrancy of the life about to pop.
That’s part of what the “Bubble Building” tries to express. Designed by DUS Architects for the ZigZagCity festival in Rotterdam, the pavilion is the world’s most temporary and fragile structure, comprised of 16 shallow hexagonal pools, each of which is filled with a reflective solution, that collectively form 35 square meteres of “soap surface”. Visitors grip handlebar frames at the base of the ponds and pull up to create iridescent globular volumes that appear different from one to the next but which last for all but a moment. The speed with which the form materializes and fades occludes any close reading of the emergent forms, and so the communal, participatory act itself assumes priority of place. At least two people are needed to construct each of the bubble cells, whose size and coverage corresponds to the number of participants cooperating uniformly across space.
The architects make explicit reference to the bursting of the worldwide economic ‘bubble’ that has galvanized significant reforms across all strands of government which paradoxically rebuild and dismantle the loci of public benefit and collective experience. This, coupled with the work’s concern with the fleeting temporality of existence, paints a pretty bleak picture. Yet, the architects are optimistic, choosing instead to see the beauty of temporary experiences, where “a multitude of soap walls and rainbow of colors” are perpetually replenished by the “old and young [who] join in to make the pavilion appear, over and over again.”
All photos courtesy DUS Architects Facebook
This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.