Berlin exhibition features Vancouver architect Omer Arbel

The Berlin-based Aedes Architecture Forum’s current exhibition features the work of Vancouver architect Omer Arbel.

The exhibition, entitled Omer Arbel – Architectural Experiments in Material and Form focuses on four architectural projects along with a number of architectural objects, presented through a series of drawings, prototypes, videos, large-scale models and sculptures.

The exhibition provides insight into Arbel’s process, in a practice that cultivates a fluid position between the fields of architecture, sculpture, invention and design.

Ausstellungseröffnung. © Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
Exhibition View. © Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Omer Arbel – Architectural Experiments in Material and Form highlights Arbel’s ongoing dedication to pushing the boundaries of materials, including concrete. In the last 15 years, Omer Arbel has been experimenting with various techniques of pouring concrete – an investigation that often resulted in cutting the material.

At the centre of the exhibition is a large-scale suspended lighting installation, made of blown glass. Named 28, it results from Arbel’s experimental approach. The show also includes five concrete sculptures distributed inside and outside of the Aedes space. The donut-shaped sculptures are cut from fabric-cast concrete forms. Thickness and layers reveal the scars characteristic of the concrete.

The four architecture projects—75, 86, 91, 94—are located in and around Vancouver; one is currently under construction. They are represented through architecture models, documentary films, drawings and prototypes.

Here’s a peek inside the exhibition:

Architectural Project 75 © Fahim Kassam

The structural armature for a private residence that is currently being built on the outskirts of Vancouver is composed of a series of concrete forms, which Arbel calls Lily Pads. Instead of pouring concrete into a wooden framework, a geotechnical fabric material is stretched between radially organised plywood ribs. The cavity in the middle is filled with a root of a mature tree.

Omer Arbel, Architecture Model 86 © Fahim Kassam

This architectural model shows a five-storey headquarters for the design and manufacturing company Bocci, founded by Arbel. The site abuts an urban park between residential and industrial neighbourhoods in Vancouver. It proposes pouring concrete over formwork composed of haphazardly stacked hay bales wrapped in loose fabric. The resulting interiors include vaulted internal spaces, transitions to exterior balconies, and perforations through conventionally formed, flat building facades.

Omer Arbel, Architecture Model 94 © Fahim Kassam
Omer Arbel, Architecture Model 91 © Fahim Kassam

91 and 94
Both of these architectural projects are set to interact and evolve within the rugged, remote, oceanfront Canadian landscapes in which they are built. 91 consists of a heavily sandblasted cedar bridge between two naturally occurring ridges, spanning over a sunken fern gully; it is anticipated that over the next 100 years, rising sea levels will flood the gully, giving the project an entirely different reading. 94 contrasts the character of underground space with the sudden discovery of being suspended over the edge of a cliff; numerous cedar offcuts are tumbled into amorphous forms and used first as formwork for concrete and secondly as kinetic cladding.

The exhibition is currently open to the public and runs until October 22, 2020.