Small Spaces, Big Ideas

(Photo: Arch Daily)

It’s probably unsurprising to hear that, out of all the structures in the V&A’s Architects Build Small Spaces exhibition, my favourite was the one that contained books.

But not just because I found it the most aesthetically pleasing. The initial brief for architects to design a space that ‘examine[s] the notions of refuge and retreat’. And although I enjoyed aspects of every sculpture I came across, it was Rintala Eggertsson Architects’ ‘Ark’, a reexamining of the concept of the archive, that, for me, summed up the theme of the exhibition entirely.

Situated at the bottom of the stairs leading to the National Art Library, ‘Ark’, the tower is filled with book upon book from a variety of periods and genres. On the inside you see the spines, whereas on the outside (where I chose to view the structure from – mainly due to there being a long queue to get inside and needing to meet a friend soon afterwards, rather than for any editorial purpose!) you can see the books’ pages. Obviously there were a couple of exceptions where they’d been piled up the ‘wrong’ way. With limited numbers of people allowed in the structure at the same time, visitors have the space to leisurely browse books and select a ‘private reading chamber’ to go through them. If I have time before the exhibition closes, I’ll definitely be going back to make the most of this and explore some more!

(Photo: Lamda Literary)

But even without going in, I felt absorbed by the sculpture. Even the stairs surrounding it felt a little bit like a retreat. There’s nothing quite like being around books. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that a ‘nipping into’ a bookshop can result in hours upon hours spent running my finger over spines and covers, sneakily taking a glance at the first few pages (Borders may be no more – in the UK anyway – but I’m determinedly taking their ‘try before you buy’ spirit with me to other bookshops), surrounded by that familiar, comforting new book smell. I’d venture so far as saying that these meccas are possibly my biggest weakness – and this is coming from someone who can spend a good few hours in the Oxford Street Topshop.

Just like the products themselves can transport you to different worlds, countries, towns – or just another person’s version of your current location – bookshops themselves have a similarly magical quality to take you away from the hustle and bustle of the street you walked off, to somewhere altogether more relaxing. Somewhere, as ‘Ark’ highlights, that is a refuge and retreat from reality (or your daily routine at least).

Entry to the Architects Build Small Spaces exhibition is free. It is on at the V&A until August 30th. For more information, visit the museum’s website.

(Photo: Kinda Like This)

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A Ten Minute Introduction

First sentences are the bane of my life. I almost got the point where I considered finding a ‘suitable’ quote and letting someone else do the hard work for me. But considering this is supposed to be a Blog where I find the words to post something interesting (hopefully…) every few days, which probably wouldn’t be the best start.

Usually once you’ve got a first sentence down, everything else seems pretty easy. Unfortunately I’m also not a huge fan of introductions, or working out what to say to make a memorable impression. Apparently I just don’t like ‘firsts’ – which is obviously the reason I came out of university with a 2:1. Anyway, let’s just say thank God for the invention of the ‘backspace’ key!

So, before I give myself away as a babbling muppet, here’s the promised, quick introduction to what The Next Ten Minutes is all about.

Although named after one of my favourite musical theatre songs, The Next Ten Minutes is not actually a theatre-orientated Blog. It’s more of a literary-and-publishing theming, but this theming could be a very loose one. There’s too many exciting things to write about that are easily connected to books! Anyway, you can learn more about me in the ‘about’ section – it’s not worth making anyone read that if they don’t want to, and definitly not writing it out more than once!

So instead I’ll leave you with the song that this Blog is named after. One day I’ll write an entire entry about the genius that is Jason Robert Brown, and my love for The Last Five Years. But for now, I’ll just leave you with a bit of a teaser. A quick bit of back story: in the show, the two protagonists start at opposite ends of the story, Cathy at the end, and Jamie at the beginning. This proposal and wedding is the central point of the show and the only time at which they are in the same ‘time zone’. When you know that, and listen to the beginning at the end, it brings a whole different meaning. But even without that knowledge this is a beautiful song that hopefully needs no analysis for you to enjoy!

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