Philippe Rahm Constructed Atmospheres


Welcome: Ulrich Müller

Introduction: Anh Linh-Ngo

We live submerged at the bottom of an ocean of air. (Evangelista Torricelli, 1644)

With this superscription in mind, Philippe Rahm assembles his first exhibition in Germany and, based on this foundation, develops the following thoughts: “Architects regularly claim that the main subject of their discipline is space. Indeed, this is traditionally what differentiated architecture from sculpture. We can enter a work of architecture, whereas we have to stay outside or in front of a work of sculpture. If sculpture deals with the solid and its forms, architecture must treat the void and its atmosphere. But until recently, architects have been unable to define the void in any other way than designing solids around it, because they didn’t really understand this hollow in between the walls that they could neither catch nor see. But the vacuum has gradually won thickness. With Torricelli and Blaise Pascal in the 17th century, air became heavy. In the 18th century, with Antoine Lavoisier and Daniel Rutherford, it became chemically decomposed into elementary particles of oxygen or nitrogen. It was charged by bacteria of a biological value with Louis Pasteur in the 19th century, and modulated by electromagnetic waves in the 20th century. If the architects of the past were reduced to work on the solid, today we are increasingly able to work directly on space itself and to design its atmosphere by shaping temperature, vapor or light.” For Philippe Rahm architectes, architecture is, in this way, becoming the art of constructed atmospheres. The exhibition in the Architektur Galerie Berlin presents the disquisition of one architectural language based on these realizations. A DIN-A0 sized book with every Philippe Rahm project since 2005 that deals with meteorological aspects of space is at the center. This compendium is supplemented by five videoscreens with lectures and a colored light installation.

Work by Philippe Rahm architectes extends the field of architecture from the physiological to the meteorological. It has attracted an international audience in the context of sustainability. In 2002, Rahm was chosen to represent Switzerland at the 8th Architecture Biennale in Venice, and was one of the 25 Manifesto Architects at Aaron Betsky’s 2008 Architectural Venice Biennale. Rahm taught at many renowned architecture schools (including the AA London, Mendrisio Academy of Architecture, ETH Lausanne, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Copenhagen, Princeton University) and his work is included in many exhibitions.

Philippe Rahm architectes is currently working on projects in France, Taiwan, Italy and Germany. Next year, construction of the Meteo Parc in Taichung, Taiwan, will be completed (with Mosbach Paysagistes and Ricky Liu & Associates).

With kindly support of:

Büro für Bildende Künste / Institut Français
Französisches Ministerium für Kultur und Kommunikation