On the occasion of this year’s Contemporary Art and Architecture Triennial in Bruges, Korean studio OBBA has realized “The Floating Island”, a pavilion in long streamlined shape floating on the water, trying to blur the rigid boundary of the canal and guide people to the waterside.
In this way, by planning the canal as a place where visitors can walk, rest, reflect and enjoy on the water, not just as a borrowed scenery, OBBA attempts to connect their relationships more in three dimensions.
Bruges in Belgium, also known as ‘Venice of the North’, is a city designated as a UNESCO World Heritage still showing the beautiful old section of the city in the Middle Age. The canal going through the city, along with the well-preserved structure, is the unique element of Bruges providing beautiful landscapes.
The pavilion consists of pontoons on the water, metal frames, deck plates, metal pillars, upper metal rails connecting the pillars, and rope curtains embracing the rails. The rope curtains and their shadows create ambiguous spaces that seem to be opened and closed at the same time. In addition, the curtains and shadows reacting to the lights and winds blur the boundary, repeatedly open and close visitors’ sights, and make familiar landscapes fresh again.
There are various spaces with different shapes and forms in the middle of the linear trail where people can rest quietly. Visitors can enjoy sunbathing leaning to the tilted ropes or rest on the wide rope hammocks looking at the clouds in the sky. In addition, they can sit on the edge and relieve their stress appreciating the quietly flowing water, read books or reflect on themselves sitting in the circular space alone, or sometimes have a great time playing on the swings.
In this way, “The Floating Island” gives the time of joy and reflection to the citizens and extends the boundary of their acts and perceptions. Further, it blurs the boundary between life (daily life) and art, making a calm change in the familiar landscapes of Brugge. The canal returns to the breasts of the citizens, forms new relationships with them, and flows constantly.