N55 at Carleton: artistic residency and class become an exhibition

16 February 2015

A hectic design lab, connecting a Danish art collective N55 and Carleton students, was transformed on February 6 into a polished exhibition featuring the proposal for a hypothetical new Arboretum Center. On view in the Perlman Teaching Museum through March 11, the exhibition reveals the design process incorporating research regarding the Arboretum’s history, Northfield community perspectives on “the Arb”, and experimental structural models.

For the first half of winter term, students in “Critical Studies in Public Space with N55” used the Braucher Gallery as a workspace to explore the practical and social nature of the Arb and to transmute that information into an architectural structure. Lines of red yarn weave the story of the Arboretum on the initial wall of the gallery, giving visual representation to the process of questioning and discovery.

Once viewers are grounded in knowledge about the Arb, they can fully appreciate the diagrams and models that fill the rest of the gallery space. Stark white Arboretum Center models, their aesthetic somewhere between greenhouse and space station, are sprawled across the floor. A full-sized Roomcycle—a variation on N55’s XYZ Cargo Bicycle—inhabits the space. Miniature Roomcycles, designed to facilitate stakeholder activities, are nestled into the models. 

The exhibition and the class demystify the architectural process and challenge all visitors to investigate notions of space and the nature of public space. These ideas, central to N55’s mission, also inform the N55 Manuals available in the gallery.

“Critical Studies in Public Space with N55,” an experimental course without real precedent, successfully achieved its goal of exploring the discipline of architecture from the designer’s perspective. This Perlman Teaching Museum exhibition presents this perspective for all to view until March 11.  To see more of N55’s work visit: http://n55.dk/