Memoriscape / Tian Ren, Chen Chen, Ke Xu


Project Specs

对一些机会和条件合适的项目推出深度报道,希望更立体的将项目展现给大家。来自哈佛大学的任天,陈忱和徐珂,他们赢得了南法小城Montpellier的建筑艺术展Festivaldes architectures vives的竞赛“Souvenir,记忆”。

非常感谢任天将项目介绍和项目图片授权gooood发行。Appreciation towards Tian Ren for providing the following description:

设计师:任天,陈忱,  徐珂
Designer: Tian Ren, Chen Chen, Ke Xu
地点:蒙彼利埃, 法国
Location: Montpellier, France
Competition Date: February to March 2013
Competition Organizer: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Construction Date: May-June 2013
Exhibition Date: June 2013
Sponsorship: Technilium, Bezier, France
Construction: Technilium, Bezier, France
Material: Aluminum
指导:George Legendre
Advisor: George Legendre
Special Thanks: Yilun Yang, Xun Wang



这个比赛是南法小城Montpellier的一个建筑艺术展,Festival des architectures vives,每年这个建筑展都会邀请世界各地的建筑师和艺术家参家,今年他们邀请了哈佛大学设计学院。二三月的时候,哈佛设计学院的老师George Legendre组织了一个比赛,比赛是为了选出一个作品作为最会去法国的建成作品。


Festival des Architectures Vives is an architecture festival organized in the city Montpellier, France. This year, they invited Harvard Graduate School of Design to participate in it. In early 2013, there was a competition organized to select a winning entry to be built in June.

We knew that the theme of the festival is “memory”; the site is going to be in a 17th century old building’s courtyard; and the material is aluminum,  as a local factory specializes in aluminum construction is the sponsor. We immediately thought about “wishing trees” in some buddhist temple, where people tie red fabric to the trees; as well as miniature landscapes. We wish to create  art installation that can interact with the visitors.

The form is inspired by the miniature landscape in traditional oriental garden, but taking the shape of lavender field of south france. Visitors can pick up the “trees” that etched with seven human emotions according to Chinese philosophy, write down their memories or wishes, then plant them on the “landscape”. The “landscape” is also subtly indexed with year and age, to allow visitors to place the trees according to date and age.




Life may be some sort of
Periodic landscape
Hill and valley, river and lake
Rejoys in sunshine
Rests in moonlight
Ephermal yet eternal

I will plant my happiness on the peak
Bury sadness in the valley
Marking directions
little milestones
with pride

In this indexical process
I am nothing
but a collection of memories
In this vast landscape
Called life

Maybe time is the only instrument
With which
I can be my own cartographer
To measure this

And you know
what often touches me
Are the things that i have forgotten
Or vaguely remember

Maybe my memory is also yours
And in yours
I could search for mine















一开始我们很担心参观者不一定会配合着参与到作品中来,甚至我们担心那些小树会被人装在口袋偷走。然而我们的担心都是多余,作品最终的效果非常好,人们非常容易就理解了我们的意图,自然而然地开始了与作品地互动。比如我们看到一个孩子,拿了“爱”然后开心地在上面画了小房子小鸟;也看到一个中年男人带着他地小孩,拿了“哀”,然后在上面写了“She left us. (她离开了我们);有一个怀孕的妈妈拿了“喜”,并在上面写上宝宝地名字和预产期的日期;有人拿了“怒”在上面写了“ Boston Strong (纪念波士顿马拉松爆炸案”;也有一个老人拿了“惧”并告诉我们她想放在1948年她20岁地时候,因为那时发生了枪击案,至今仍让她记忆犹新。到展览的最后一天,所有一千两百余棵树都被写满,原本光图的山丘也变得郁郁葱葱,成了真正的记忆的景观。


At beginning, we were worried about visitors will not interact with the installation the way we wanted. However the worries were unnecessary, the interaction happened very naturally, visitorsunderstood the installation right away, and start to take part in it. There was a kid picked “love” and start drawing little bird; a pregnant young mother picked “happiness” and wrote her child’s name and birth date; a father with his son picked “sadness” and wrote “she left us”; a man picked “angry” and wrote “boston strong!”; an old lady picked “fear” and wrote 1948, and told us she still remember a shooting happened that year she was afraid. In the end, all the 1200 trees were filled with people’s writing, the installation was completed.

For us, the successful interaction was probably the most rewarding experience. When people picked up the trees that are well made with good material, there is a sense of seriousness as they write on them; the action of putting the trees on the landscape became some sort of ritual, where people feel that their wishes could be fulfilled or their sadness could be erased. It is at this moment, we discover the potential of this installation.









Conversation between Wang Yaohua and Ren Tian
Wang Yaohua: architect student
Ren Tian: architect student

任 天:哈佛大学GSD在读研究生



W: What do you think is the main difference between designing a building and designing an installation?

R:An installation is like miniature architecture, there is no fundamental difference between the two. Similar to architecture, installation design needs to consider concept, form, tectonics, fabrication and construction. However, compare to architecture, installation usually has a shorter life span, and is less complex. The thinking behind an installation can be closer to art works compare to architecture, since there are usually less functioning requirements and constraints.


W: Which part of the installation is most challenging to the artist?

R:The difference between installation and other traditional art forms is installation’s interactive and compound nature. The interactiveness allows visitor to be part of the art work, encourage their participation  and feedback to the installation itself, through interaction, visitors’ input and the installation become one. The compound nature meaning that it is not a sculpture, painting, or music, for an installation to achieve the intended effect, it can use a combination of different mediums. It is very challenging to the artists to make sure the visitors will interact with the installation the way they want.



任:装置不同于建筑,绘画,或是雕塑的地方在于其与观众的互动性,与形式的复合性。互动性在于能够让参观者参与其中,激发参与者的某些思考,并将这些思考反馈到作品之中,同时体现出来, 从而令观众成为作品的共同完成者。形式的复合性在于他的形式可以是不拘一格的,通过形式,空间,语言,文字等形式的叠加而达到作者要达到的效果,并形成互动。所以装置对与艺术家来说,可以说是一个挑战,因为他直接要求参观者加入其中互动,而如何让参观者按照艺术家的意愿与作品互动,便需要经过一个缜密的思考过程。

W: How do you think about the orientation of your installation as an object?

R:As an object, the directionality of the installation is governed by its site. In our project, responding to the squarish courtyard site, our installation takes the shape of a circle, since circle and square’s harmonic geometrical nature. Meanwhile, since all the visitors will come in from the main gate to the courtyard, we inclined the installation slightly towards the entrance, setting a frontal view to the entrance.



W: What do you learn from this installation and how would you develop it further?

R:Installation is like miniature architecture, so what apply to installation also apply to architecture. Through installation project, we have gained experience in construction, detail, material, fabrication and project management, which are all valuable experience for us to practice architecture in future. Moreover, some interactive element can be used in architecture too.





W: What were the difficulties you encountered during the design and build process?

R:The geographical distance and language barrier during the construction documentation phase caused some communication inconvenience between us and the manufacturer, which slowed down the process. But the factory’s high quality control and precision allowed the final installation to be quite satisfactory. The construction document was prepared in a short time, which didn’t allow us to build a scaled model of the final design to study the connection points. There were some small mistakes made, fortunately they didn’t affect the final installation. Through this experience we learned that to achieve hundred percent precision, scale model and mock up are always necessary, and should be done very seriously.



任:地理上的距离与语言的不同使得在施工图阶段的沟通不是非常顺畅,使得最后在现场施工时耽误了一些时间。 但工厂对零件加工的精细程度很高,装置最终的完成度和品质都令人满意。此外,当时正值学期最忙的阶段由于时间限制,我们没能挤出时间制作一个完整的最终的模型以检验各节点的设计万无一失,是此次最大的经验教训和收获。幸运的是最终只有一些很小的地方需要返工,没有影响到安装的进度和装置的效果。


W: From this installation experience, what is your view communication and compromise?

R:If you look carefully, you may realize that the finished color of the installation is very different from the renders we had in the competition drawings. We wished the installation to be in metallic silver, but it was finished in black and green. It was because the communication between us and the factory was handicapped by language and time difference. We only know about the new color when we saw the actual cut pieces. At beginning we felt disappointed, but after assembly it does not look too bad, so we kind of think of it as the contribution from the sponsor and contractor, who added new possibility to the installation.





W: What do you think of the difference in the time span between installation and architecture?

R:Installation’s life span is flexible, architecture’s is usually longer. The Memoriscape exhibited for just five days during the architecture festival, but will be a permanent collection by the sponsor, in that sense, it will exist forever. On the other hand, as designers, we knew that this installation is only designed for the five days period to happen in that particular courtyard setting, leaving that setting, the installation will lost its original power. Thus, to us it only existed for five days. Maybe it does not matter how long it has existed, what matters is that it has existed, because as long as it has existed, it can continue to exist in a variety of ways: conversation, picture, internet etc, and trigger new thoughts and conversations.







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