People wearing the huge sculptural head of a unicorn have become one of the most surreal images to be seen at this year’s 15th Venice Architectural Biennale.
Part of the Prospect North exhibition at the Scottish Pavilion, which is jointly produced by Dualchas Architects from Sleat; Lateral North from Glasgow, and Soluis, a design-visualisation studio also from Glasgow, using the heads of the unicorn, moose and polar bear allows you to enter an immersive virtual reality world of the Highlands past, present and future.
But apart from a bit of fun, Neil Stephen of Dualchas says there is a serious side to it, too.
“In this element we look at how the communities in the Highlands were destroyed, along with much of its Gaelic culture. We then look at how contemporary architecture is trying to connect with the past, but finding that it is largely a privilege of the wealthy as the young still leave, pushed out by high land values. We then imagine a different future where economic opportunities to the north can repopulate the Highlands. ”
The display also includes the craftsmanship of a 3 dimensional timber map of Scotland and the arctic with spectacular 3-D visualisations and films which are triggered when viewing the map through mobile phones and tablets.
Fergus Bruce of Soluis said: “The mixture of technology and sculpture has not previously seen at the Biennale, and offered Soluis the chance to push boundaries in using a complex, unique piece of art as a trigger for augmented reality. These technologies are currently disrupting and invading architecture and design, so the timing couldn’t be more appropriate.
“But there will always be a place for the hand-crafted and the beautiful – and we hope that both the sculpture and the beautiful writing reminds us that there are many ways of being creative, and making the world a better place. ”
Feedback to the exhibition has so far been extremely positive, with the team noting that the visitors to the exhibition will stay for an average of 40 minutes, due to the multi-layered elements of the displays.
The exhibition is one of 88 being curated under the title Reporting from the Front which has brought together architects from 33 countries from across the globe.
The Prospect North exhibition and event series will run from 26 May until 25 June at Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Venice.
It will return to Scotland for a nationwide tour as part of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design and the Festival of Architecture. The exhibition was supported by Architecture and Design Scotland, Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government and British Council Scotland.