Art installations as design featuresBy Isabel Berenguer Asuncion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sweeter the second time around! I find myself back at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore with a stay that is fortunately longer than my one-day whirlwind-visit many months ago. Design and architecture work brought me here on both occasions, but this visit’s call of duty allows me several days to happily wallow in the little details this hotel has to offer.
Since arriving, the complex has been chaotic, with the frenzied activity you’d expect from the busy mornings of a large hotel, shopping, casino and convention complex. Amusingly, all the energy and the frenzy suits its context. Though built with fine materials and interesting details, Marina Bay Sands is still your typical casino hotel—bursting with forms, materials and patterns: a visual overload that’s bordering on kitschy, but doing its job of putting glitz, glam and that sense of awe in a hospitality facility.
The sheer scale of its lobby promenade called for elements that could break up the angularity of the interior shell and fill what could otherwise be too much void in its grandness. A variety of art installations created by internationally renowned artists fill the space with concepts and story lines, blurring the line dividing nature and architecture. Here’s what caught my eye:
An odd-shaped green bench turned out to be a functional sculpture from two stone slabs and glass “islands.” The piece is by Israeli sculptor Israel Hadany, aptly named “Motion.” It simulates the kind of weathering seen in geological formations. Its organic forms nicely complement the angular architecture of the lobby.
Outside the lobby promenade is a huge water cascade wall with slivers of polycarbonate that tilt according to the flow of water. Put together by American artist Ned Kahn, who likes to assemble moving installations, the wall allows water to dictate the movement of the tilt as it moves down at its own accord. “Tipping Wall” can be fun to watch: unpredictable and spontaneous—much like mother nature’s disposition.
In keeping with the rest of the hotel, the art was diverse in both concept and scale. Moreover, the intriguing pieces were meant to encourage a dialogue between nature and architecture; nature and the art piece; and between the art piece and the hotel guest. For this guest, the dialogue is still ongoing.
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