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03 Oct 2017

Hull City of Culture attracts tourists with vast public art piece
BY Kim Megson

Sixteen giant galvanized steel columns arranged in a grid formation have been installed in front of Hull Minster, forming a new outdoor ‘room’ for the city

Sixteen giant galvanized steel columns arranged in a grid formation have been installed in front of Hull Minster, forming a new outdoor ‘room’ for the city
photo: Thomas Arran

A major public installation has opened in front of Hull Minster, as part of the city's ongoing City of Culture celebrations.

Swiss artist Felice Varini and the Chilean architecture practice Pezo von Ellrichshausen have collaborated on the large-scale project – called A Hall for Hull – which has now been unveiled to the public.

Sixteen giant galvanized steel columns arranged in a grid formation have been installed in Trinity Square, forming a new outdoor ‘room’ for the English city.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Hull UK City of Culture 2017 commissioned the project as part of the Hull 2017 'Look Up' programme of public art installations. These are intended to bring new life to public spaces across the city and transform Hull into a focal point for national and international tourists.

“This installation forms a temporary hypostyle room without a roof, with massive but almost immaterial columns barely open to the sky and to the immediate surroundings,” said architects Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen.

“The empty stone-paved square is challenged by the size and disposition of a regular open grid and each column is, in fact, an inhabitable room with a single entrance pointed to a different direction.”

Visitors face a range of different experiences as they enter each of the 6m (20ft) high columns, which are open to the sky. Perforations have been added across their frosted-like steel skin to “create a delicate interplay of light and shadow across the interiors of each inhabited space” and create “a feeling of lightness” as visitors move closer to the initially imposing static structures.

Varini has created three hand-drawn artworks across the columns that distort and redefine their otherwise rigid geometry, challenging perceptions of scale and perspective.

The design team – which was selected ahead of 17 others in an international competition for the project – said in a statement that the space “is designed with the hope that residents and community groups within and beyond Hull will activate the space for multiple purposes beyond the imagination of the artists.”

The installation will remain in place until 11 November 2017.

Commenting on the completed project, RIBA Head of Exhibitions Marie Bak Mortensen, said: “A Hall for Hull effortlessly fulfils our aim to push the boundaries of how we observe art, architecture and public spaces and to facilitate unique experiences for residents and newcomers to the city.”



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