ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS POINT OUT LACK OF NATURE IN MODERN LIFE

Straw in the living room

DURING the first half of May, when walking around the Faculty of Architecture in Bratislava, it was strangely common to see students with straw on their clothes or in their hair. These were either the creators of the giant living room made of straw or students who had recently enjoyed its comfort.

Giant straw sofas were part of the Welcome to the Living Room project. Giant straw sofas were part of the Welcome to the Living Room project. (Source: Jana Liptáková)

DURING the first half of May, when walking around the Faculty of Architecture in Bratislava, it was strangely common to see students with straw on their clothes or in their hair. These were either the creators of the giant living room made of straw or students who had recently enjoyed its comfort.

A team of 20 architecture students in their fourth year of studies at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava built the living room in the foyer of the Faculty of Architecture to point out that these days, people are living fast lives in metropolises completely cut off from nature, unable to see or touch real materials like straw.

"The student used 35 tonnes of straw in 62 bales to build the giant living room as a symbol of comfort in our fast-tracked world," Bohuš Kubinský, the sculptor and teacher supervising the project, told The Slovak Spectator. Besides pointing out our interrupted connections with nature, the straw was meant to indicate opportunities for using alternative and ecological materials.

"Relaxation is part of a balanced rhythm to the day," the students wrote in the leaflet introducing the project. "A large sofa in a comfortable living room, which is often the heart of the house, jumps into the minds of many people when speaking about relaxing. It is there that we welcome visitors and celebrate successes or family anniversaries."

To bring a bit of this comfort to the school in which they spend most of the day, the students built the giant living room.

"Why not make the school environment more comfortable with a 'living room' that would create a space for meetings and relief? Our goal was to create an oasis of peace in which everyone could relax, with the help of elements of contemporary design."

Project Welcome to the Living Room was the highlight of the Ecoliving display, which presented four independent projects prepared by 40 architecture students under Kubinský's supervision. All four projects were on display at the Faculty of Architecture from May 5 to 15.

"The ambition of this student project is to point out the huge work load of a contemporary human being, for whom it is often a problem to find free moments for himself or herself," Kubinský told The Slovak Spectator.

The motif of the individual projects was an examination of the relation between the exhibited work, the architecture in which it is displayed and the spectator. They dealt with sensual manipulation, highlighted emotions, lyricism and poetry, so underrated during the present time.

The project 5minus1 presented the environment as it is perceived by blind people. A large black box held a labyrinth of narrow passages covered in various soft materials. When crawling through and searching for the way out, the visitor was able to perceive various surfaces only by touch, demonstrating how important visual perception is for getting a complex artistic impact.

The exhibition wrapped up underground, in the former boiler room, where the students presented two short videos. Bride in the Wind was a video of a large piece of soft white cloth fluttering in the wind. The raw industrial environment contrasted sharply with this tender video. The second video, Smile, dealt with the interpretation of emotions, examining the smile as a non-verbal tool of communication.

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