In our rapidly changing world where ideologies and forms of life are under threat, history is being disregarded. The 2018 Bruges Triennale proposes one question: “How flexible, liquid, and resilient can a historic city like Bruges be in an age when nothing seems to be certain any longer?” In parallel, the inspiration behind the concept lies in the geography of the city itself. Bruges is a city wrapped and braided with water and has been a metaphor for Liquid City since early times. Till-Holger Borchert and Michel Dewilde, curators of the 2018 Bruges Viennale, have asked artists and architects to translate the city’s fluidity and artistic legacy into picturesque installations, allowing visitors to become part of the creative process.
This year, award-winning Spanish Studio SelgasCano led by José Selgas and Lucía Cano, have designed a vibrant floating pavilion in the Coupure Canal so that visitors can take a dip. The outer layer allows light to travel playfully through the space, distorting the natural perception of the old city, and acts as a muse for photographers. In addition to it being a swimming installation, the platform also serves as a place for gatherings and activities.
The installation consists of a steel skeleton enclosed by a fluorescent pink-orange vinyl. This waterproof plastic material has never been used in a building and was constructed on site in a completely hand-made process. A yellow wooden platform is attached to the installation, continuing the interactive experience by allowing visitors to jump into the canal for a swim.
The playfulness of the light and colors, as well as its ability to create interaction with the visitors, is a throwback to SelgasCano’s impressive portfolio, notably the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion. Showcased in London, the Serpentine was a playful render of the chaotic, London underground. The installation, similar to this year’s project, consists of a steel skeleton wrapped with multi-colored sheets, creating a dynamic 3-dimensional sketch of the underground routes. Unlike the Serpentine, the Bruges Triennale Pavilion has an organic form, which mimics the surrounding water bodies.