Event halls have accompanied human existence from its very dawn, occurring as mass gathering sites for the purpose of worship and communal activities of myriad sorts - such are the Roman pantheon and various churches. In 1851, the technological developments of the Industrial Revolution soared to new heights with the construction of the Crystal Palace, designed by Joseph Paxton, in honor of the Great Exhibition held in London. The building heralded, perhaps, the beginning of a new era by providing grand spaces for extensive public use, satisfying the public’s longing to be seen in the social sphere and gain status.
The success of the modernist school of architecture was demonstrated to the world at the beginning of the last century. Its guiding principle was the heretical notion that ‘form follows function’, as espoused by the architect Louis Sullivan. This notion influenced not least of all the development of large hangars - giant, industrial edifices with wide-open, multi-purpose spaces. Naked and devoid of decoration and non-essential components necessary to the proper functioning of the building, such architecture was rapidly adopted to fulfill the needs of large events that demanded free movement in space and served visitors that came for music, exhibitions and private events.
As it were, the powerful influence of modernist architecture has shaped the titanic scheme of hangars and yet has been only partially successful in penetrating their interior. Both inside and outside, industrial spaces are barren and functional in contrast to structures serving cultural events. The latter provides the visitor and global customer dimensions that are alien to reality - the structures themselves establish formidable atmospheric setting, create identity and realize aspirations. Huge chandeliers, theatrical curtains, fountains and coconut palms are just some examples of how atmosphere is used to conquer otherwise dizzying, colossal dimensions. The modernist cultural halls turned their back on the formal world and dressed up hangars as palaces.
With that same bold abandonment of the established, the architect Pitsou Kedem designed the event hall 'Lago' in July 2015 in Rishon Lezion. It demonstrates the transformation of the modernist aesthetic, often perceived as cold and detached, into a visual background to realize the dreams of its consumers - without the sin of overly formal sterility and minimalism.
The simple schema unites two major events halls on opposite sides of the operative space - the starting point shapes a shell consisting of an impossible encounter between concrete and glass. Strength and fragility, opacity and transparency, lightness and weight forge the shell, as if a freight or warehouse were resonating within it. Observing the details of the building reveals the physical connection between the materials, maintaining the tension in the incredulity of their meeting - it is drawn with thin lines and delineates the walls which maintain a mesmerizing balancing act between the light and heavy, eliding that which is structural and only leaving the abstract aesthetic of its facade.
The facade transforms itself unceasingly with every change in sunlight and interior illumination throughout the day. The edifice becomes the object of desire, the beautiful backdrop and the vessel in which the consumer of its spaces realizes some dream. Moreover - the opaque and subdued concrete and glass work to subvert its actual dimensions and create intimate spaces. These properties are retained in every surface and space formed, both at the interior and exterior, so that one’s experience is shaped by the edifice even while outdoors.
The well contemplated placement and design of lighting transcends the shell of the edifice, adding dimension to outdoor passages and the peripheral pool. They complete the minimalist picture and provide a possible alternative to the edifice’s contemporaries.