More than ever, buildings are experienced through images. It's unfortunate, then, that contemporary architectural photography so often fails to capture the true essence of a place. A building's more acrobatic moments—the hubris of a cantilever or the polychromatic jolt of a facade—tend to overshadow its quieter ones, and the viewer is"left wanting," says Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) director and 2012 Metropolis Game Changer Mirko Zardini. His latest exhibition, Rooms You May Have Missed, burrows into these contemplative spaces, in particular, the interiors of architects Umberto Riva and Bijoy Jain. Here, Zardini discusses this preoccupation with "interiority," the rise of domestic digital tools, and why it's important that architecture look inward into the space of the everyday.
Samuel Medina: The curatorial approach is interesting, and something that has become almost a trademark of the CCA in the last decade. Why is it an effective way to broach the topic at hand?
Mirko Zardini: With this type of exhibition, we bring together two—or in some cases, several—different architects as a way to explore a single issue from multiple points of view. We’ve used this approach previously, in 2006, with Gilles Clément and Philippe Rahm, whose works offered two perspectives on the environment and design. We did it in 2008 with Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa and again in 2010 with Greg Lynn, Michael Maltzan, and Alessandro Poli (a former member of Superstudio), whose designs for outer space offered an interesting entry into prescient discussions of architecture and technology. For this exhibition, Rooms You May Have Missed, we chose to focus on the work of Umberto Riva and Bijoy Jain, two architects working in very different contexts but who are nevertheless preoccupied with the “interior” and the spaces we inhabit on a daily basis. It was important for us to look at architecture in this way—we felt this type of intimate reflection wasn’t really happening in the profession and was certainly not being discussed sufficiently at a theoretical level. Today, there is a disjunction between theory and practice, so it was our idea to start from the work of an architect in order to develop a more general reflection about the state of architecture.
SM: Let’s backtrack a bit—which came first, the pairing of the architects or the theme of interiors?
MZ: It was the interior that was really interesting for us but also a desire to look at interiors closely—how they are conceived and built—as a way to explore architects’ approaches to their own work. It was one of the ideas that we’ve been fixated on for a long time