Interview with Architect Edwin Chan,USA
What attracted you to The Chalet project when Piero Golia got in touch?
I’ve known Peiro for about 10 years and have spoken at his Mountain School of Art, but we had never worked together. When he asked me to design The Chalet, I jumped on it immediately. When I worked with Frank Gehry on projects such as the Bilbao and the Foundation Louis Vuitton, the galleries there were designed as neutral spaces. I always thought there was another way of thinking about art exhibition space. The Chalet would be more like a salon, and would expand the concept of art beyond white walls into the social realm. It would be a departure from my previous projects.
I also loved the idea of collaborating with artists, as I love having collaborative dialogues.
What was the vision for The Chalet?
The Chalet was conceived as an ephemeral exhibit and experience. Although it was first constructed in Hollywood, the idea has always been that it could be disassembled and transported to another location. We knew it would be moved around, but we didn’t know where it would go after LA. One of the challenges was making this ephemeral experience mobile, and letting it evoke the intimate feeling of a chalet without literally being one.
What was the design concept?
We wanted to make the interior modular, so you can stack the wood and create different configurations. It could be site specific as well as adaptable and moveable. For the Hollywood location, we wanted to use a wood that would feel good and be very tactile. We didn’t find anything we liked at California lumber mills after searching for months, but then, we found this white oak forest in Pennsylvania and decided to re-purpose it for the Chalet. We lucked out.
What role does architecture play at The Chalet?
We wanted to create a tactile environment that would promote social interaction. People are encourage to touch their surroundings and it should feel good. I feel that this is a quality that is getting lost in architecture. The quality and material of the wood and the blue Venetian plaster contribute to this tactility. People want to sit on that wood!
Another example is how the aquarium was integrated into a pedestal. People love to sit around it and observe the ecosystem. We’ve created a dynamic environment in a simple way.