Temporary Architecture: A Palio Dinner
I’ve been bored lately with just talking about design objects. I’m an architect, and I’ve recently been obsessed with what I’m calling “temporary architecture”. Temporary architecture , to me, is simply the space created and removed over a short period of time, like for an event.
So I ask you all, dear readers, to tell me if you’ve been somewhere recently that made you feel special in the moment when, normally, you would not consider that space as special.
My first example is a Palio dinner in one of the contrade of Siena. The Palio is an annual horse race that pits neighborhoods against each other. Before the race, a vast dinner is held in each contrada where thousands of neighbors come out to eat in the street. At the head table the guest of honor is the horse.
This example transforms a city street into a dining room for thousands with light, tables, sounds, colors, flags, and people. And although Siena has a natural and man-made beauty that transcends this temporary architecture of the Palio Dinner, I would argue that the temporal experience of the dinner is the basis for falling in love with the city of Siena. The event is fleeting and only a memory, and it’s this intense memory of civic transformation that truly creates the lasting impression of a city rather than it’s day to day stasis.
Temporary architecture also helps resolve what is really important for inhabitation. Is the importance of space derived from a static building’s material quality or sculptural aesthetics? I would say no, and that these qualities only augment an architectural experience which is more based on a memory of a building at that moment. So architecture is just the moments at which we experience it and the temporary elements which affect the static buildings at that time.