In 2020, NANO was asked to exhibit alongside an exclusive group of 200 international architects in Venice, Italy. NANO was the first Architecture firm from the State of Louisiana to have ever been invited to exhibit at this internationally renowned event. Utilizing this “first”, we designed, fabricated, and constructed an installation titled SUBMERGED EXPERIENCE that highlights the similarities between New Orleans and Venice. Cultural, geographical, architectural, and spatial parallels are illustrated through an abstract, immersive exhibit that encourages visitors to ponder their own “time, space, existence”.
Recipient of the 2021 ECC Venice Biennale Architecture Award, SUBMERGED EXPERIENCE is a conscious manifestation of the latent conditions of space, as revealed by our unconscious actions, experiences that are not experienced, yet are perceived as the way we see our world and traverse through it.
- Terri Dreyer
- Ian Dreyer
- Kristine Kobila
- Lance Dickman
- Olivia Szczerba
- Samantha Johnson
- Sam LeBlanc
- Kelsey Chappuis
- Ivy Leleux
- Ana Chu
- Maria Ory
From the detail of a single stitch, through the granular lens of New Orleans, synthesized with Venice, our intention was to transform the provided space by creating a heterogeneous experience that heightens the patron’s perception; emphasizing the liminal moment between spaces, the relationship of change through time resulting in the experience of existence.
Liminal space is the experience of departing one condition but not fully entering the next, the “crossing over”. Within the liminal moment the body is between junctures; its existence uncertain. Shelter and safety are inherent in our psyche as architects and designers; but reflection and existence can only be tested in that liminal space of the unknown. With this understanding of scale, place and being, there must exist the opposite of the normative, where the contrast of quiet and loud, known and unknown, safe and unsafe define the flux of space.
The liminal moment, although temporal, reminds us of our absolute and relative existence in our world and inspires reflection on the ephemeral nature of existence.
In creating the path through our exhibit, we began by outlining the physical parameters of our exhibit space. We filmed and mapped out each of our team member’s instinctive, non-directed path through the empty space. Our mappings illustrated various paths and speeds but revealed common moments of interest, assisting us in informing a portion of the physical construction and guided our approach to the visitor’s experience. The result was a free form abstracted path.
The installation exhibit is broken down into three primary components:
- A ceiling condition which overlays the topography of New Orleans and Venice, and represents the relationship in 3-D space.
- A prescribed sequence spatializing the transitional characteristics of space and existence.
- A visual experience displaying the evolution of culture and tradition of the Mardi Gras Indians.
New Orleans and Venice exist in precarious states–they are liminal cities—places between land and water, part of both, yet fully in neither. New Orleans and Venice remain resilient by embracing their unique topography, cultural identities, and indigenous peoples. This dynamism has fostered diverse and distinctive cultures through artistic innovation, exemplary in the New Orleans Mardi Gras and Carnevale di Venezia.
Abstracting the vulnerability of Venice and New Orleans and their relationship to water, section cuts were created by emphasizing the high, low, and corresponding topography seen in the ceiling of the exhibit. The lowest points of the two cities, the Mississippi River and the Grand Canal, are also the lowest points of the ceiling that extend down to the visitor’s eye level, emphasizing the impact that these water ways have on daily life in New Orleans and Venice.
The path was enclosed by connecting strings between the vertical rails. Drawing inspiration from the weaving techniques and intricate beading and stitching patterns of the Mardi Gras Indians, the railing of our path is threaded with over 2,000 feet of string, leaving a smooth and aesthetically pleasing mesh cladding the design. This transparent enclosure created changing views of the exhibit as the user moved through the path.