Severine Tatangelo, the visionary French architect and founder of Studio PCH, has always been interested in linking sociology with architecture. Those familiar with the firm’s portfolio— Interscope Records’ Santa Monica recording studio, former Nikita restaurant, now Soho Beach House Malibu, and private residences —will recognize its knack for envisioning spaces that strike a balance between inviting warmth and sophistication. But those who have followed Studio PCH for as long as Surface has also understand Tatangelo’s reverence for human connection: the multihyphenate often credits relationships and bonds for making far-reaching projects like the Nobu Hotels possible. Now the firm has answered the call of the European Cultural Centre’s Venice Architecture Biennale, emboldened to explore a new philosophy of design centered around sensory experiences.
This year’s edition invited participants to ponder the organizing theme of “Space, Time, Existence.” With “Soulscapes,” the firm’s third Biennale outing, Tatangelo seized upon a one-of-a-kind opportunity to “embrace multi-sensory, experimental design,” she tells Surface.
Inspired by the notion of peeling back the Earth’s surface, the firm enlisted its own architect Thomaz Regatos, along with director of design technology Irving Alvarez and creative director Jean Posulski, to bring “Soulscapes” to fruition. Together, they turned to organic materials for the exhibition, which prominently features a sinuous wooden structure that shelters a reflecting pool. The installation is a conceptual exploration of a new design standard, one that promotes mental well-being and spans beyond wellness-focused projects. After all, Tatangelo says, “Life unfolds best in well-designed spaces.”
An LED backdrop, created by filmmaker Conor Chandler Simpson, depicts stunning natural landscapes, while sounds and scents contribute to the “multi-sensory” experience. Things get experimental—and downright psychedelic—with rendering alien cloud formations and otherworldly colorscapes that encourage viewers to see architecture’s potential beyond buildings. “It can be a tool to promote emotional well-being and induce transformative experiences,” Tatangelo says. “We want to inspire viewers to think of architecture as a space of healing and introspection.”
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