Premiering a new virtual environment of one of Bath’s historical landmarks, Playing the Picturesque presents a selection of new works by architectural design practice You+Pea, commissioned by RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).
Today, we spend much of our time living in virtual realms, endlessly producing, sharing and looking at pictures of an idealised and filtered world on the screen of personal devices. In the eighteenth century too, architects and artists became interested in picturing the ‘ideal’. Landscapes, townscapes and buildings were arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner, producing the stylistic movement of ‘the Picturesque’. Designing its own harmony and beauty, the Picturesque provides delight in the experience of looking through framed views, dramatic reveals and a romantic relationship to nature.
For this installation, You+Pea have used objects and archival images from the RIBA Collections to open a window into a world of digital delights where audiences are invited to play. Looking at the work of Regency architect John Nash (1752–1835), one of the main proponents of the Picturesque, the exhibition consists of a series of scaled folly structures extracted from history. Five Nash-inspired scenes extend into interactive virtual environments through digital projections. The follies become junctions between the virtual and physical, acting as visual markers in the imagined landscape, growing and changing in response to the movement and interactions of visitors through the gallery.
Enjoyable and informative on the nature of the picturesque, encouraging the visitor to experience different routes through the landscapesPamela Buxton, The RIBA Journal
You+Pea is the architectural design studio of Sandra Youkhana and Luke Caspar Pearson. Their work explores the integration of video-game technologies into architectural design, exploring how games can engage new participants in the design of cities. They operate between the design of architectural interventions and virtual worlds, alongside developing critical theory that underpins their connection. Sandra and Luke established and lead the Videogame Urbanism studio at the Bartlett School of Architecture, where they promote the use of game technologies in architectural education. You+Pea draws inspiration from speculative architecture of the past, producing new forms of architectural practice that result in the design of virtual, interactive game spaces to provoke conversations about the real world.