Architect Sverre Fehn’s competition entry for the Scandinavian pavilion at the World Fair in Osaka 1970 is part of the Norwegian National Museum – Architecture’s collection. Fehn’s proposal of a breathing structure where images of Scandinavian nature was to be projected on the expanding and contracting walls did not win the competition and was never realized. The inflated structure is considered to be atypical in Fehn’s production, but the iconic images of the flexible, moving structure still have their power.
As part of a strategy for activating its collection the museum commissioned architects Manthey Kula to develop a concept for some kind of realization of Sverre Fehn’s competition entry. The task was very open: What was envisioned was a functioning scale model. However the idea to develop the project in order to have it built inside the museum pavilion – which is Fehn’s last built work – was presented quite early and supported by the museum.
The installation on show is a result of a design process where important questions concerning the solution of the built piece and it’s relationship to the initial competition entry had to be addressed and sorted out: The questions concerned technical issues, matters of form and material, geometry, size and siting, and eventually that of exhibition content.
The Ode to Osaka pavilion is not Sverre Fehn’s project for the Osaka World fair. It is a contemporary installation based on, and honoring his idea of a breathing space. It is a structure consisting of an airlock building and an inflated moving space. All details are developed in order for the installation to be dismounted and re-erected. There are no objects on show – only space.