When Utrecht’s Centraal Museum commissioned a new installation from Amsterdam-based design and research office Rietveld Landscape, they gave the studio two directives. First, they asked Rietveld to create something that referred back to Vacant NL, an expansive model city they created for the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010. The monochromatic cityscape proposed re-purposing unoccupied government-owned buildings into multi-use hotbeds of creative and scientific experimentation.
The second directive was to do something interesting with one of the site’s own empty areas. Pretty Vacant is the soaring result. (They claim it has got no Sex Pistols connection.) The team ended up using the Biennale piece’s same Styrofoam XPS hard foam material—in the same bright blue shade and cut with a hot wire—to represent the precise negative mirror image of the original exhibition.
The effect is impressive—a kind of modern-Medieval mashup or geometric stained glass (sans-glass). It complements the shape of the adjacent windows and breaks up the expanse in a way that encourages a closer look while still allowing for a peek through to the other side.
All images by Rob 't Hart