Anya Sirota + AKOAKI, a design studio based in Michigan, USA, has installed two monumental stars in a defunct tannery in Amilly, France. The structures, built on site, span over thirty feet point to point and deploy the logics of American vernacular stud construction in order to deliver an iconographic pow. As floating signifiers, they encourage visitors to take a fresh look at the spatial potentials of an industrial site in the process of transformation and to imagine a more playful, dynamic and collective future.
The project, titled Pop It Up, comes at a critical moment for the tannery complex. Come fall 2013, the site will be converted into a cultural art center. In its current state of coming-undone-ness, however, with its bared concrete structure and second-story wood flooring and windows removed, the surviving architecture offers exceptional opportunities for experimentation and interim engagement.
One seven pointed star hovers dexterously above the exhibition space clipped to the existing concrete structure. The second star steps out between columns on the ground floor, and balances precariously over the tannery tanks. The two mischievous protagonists become three dimensional supergraphics and perform in dialogue with the idiosyncrasies of the industrial building as well as the landscape beyond.
The forms which can be viewed from above, below and at eye level engage multiple and overlapping vantage points, suggesting that challenging geometries can be arrived at through simple, approachable techniques independent of costly contemporary fabrication facilities. All elements in the project were produced and assembled on site using tools germane to conventional construction: a mill saw, a table saw, a pneumatic stapler and a few screw guns.
The construction process, free and open to the public, spanned two weeks and was performed in collaboration with students from the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. All construction scraps were reused to furnish a viewing platform and terrace.
The project, commissioned by the city of Amilly and curated by Christophe Ponceau, was made possible through support from the City of Amilly, the Region Centre and Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning. Pop It Up is on exhibit at the Tanneries (234 rue des Ponts, Amilly, France, 45200) through September 29, 2013.
all images © JEAN LOUIS FARGES