The experience recalls Étienne-Louis Boullées 'Cenotaph to Newton' – a 18th century proposal for a structure in which the viewer was presented with a man-made approximation of the universe. ‘In a Lonely Place’ remakes this idea for a less than perfect world. The spheres tiny transparent windows form what seem to be constellations. But rather than referring to a natural phenomenon, they mark out a tourist map of Hollywood stars homes. This plan of Los Angeles takes on a planetary scale. This banal man made pattern becomes sublime when viewed from the centrally positioned platform within the sphere.
The installation combines different kinds of architecture: high tech inflatable and nostalgic historicism – both of which are deeply embedded as opposites within English architectural debate. The half timbered structure recalls both church and factory in its sharp-pointed roofline, its mock Tudor pattern suggestive of faux-historical suburban styling. The sphere is made from industrial PVC sheet, inflated by a series of electric fans – a piece of raw infrastructure.
The combination creates ambiguities of form and formlessness, of narrative and abstraction, and of object and experience. Structurally, the two parts work in opposite ways, the half timbered structure in load bearing compression, and the spheres form maintained by air pressure pushing outwards from its interior – one hard and one soft.
‘In a Lonely Place’ – whose title is title is taken from a Joy Division / New Order song - is a modern day folly that explores the idea of architecture as a series of experiences made richer by drawing on diverse references, materials and techniques.