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London’s ‘Color Palace’ is the jolt of energy architecture needs

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The installation celebrates vibrant Nigerian textiles and experimental engineering

colorful installation in London Adam Scott

In the textile markets of Lagos, Nigeria, bolts of vividly hued fabric are stacked far as the eye can see. They’re often neatly wrapped, waiting for shoppers to unfurl them and reveal their vibrant geometric patterns. These markets inspired the Color Palace, a new pavilion British-Nigerian designer Yinka Ilori and the firm Pricegore created for the London Festival of Architecture and Dulwich Picture Gallery.

colorful installation in London Adam Scott

The temporary pavilion is an enormous, prismatic slatted cube raised on four stocky red columns that are actually old drainage pipes. The cube’s space frame is composed of wood battens that are all the exact same size. Ilori painted a geometric motif on the facade, with each batten receiving a different color on each side.

This yields an optical illusion: Walking around the pavilion makes it appear like the colors morph, like a lenticular print. When visitors ascend a magenta staircase, they’re totally immersed in the structure and can see, up close, how everything is assembled.

Adam Scott
Adam Scott

“[The pavilion’s] patterns and shapes calmly welcome you from a distance until you get closer and closer, and you’re blown away with an explosion of color that immediately demands your attention,” Ilori said in a news release.

Ilori is best known for designing upcycled furniture, which he paints with bold colors and reupholsters with Nigerian fabrics to symbolize traditional parables. The Color Palace extends that sensibility to a much greater scale that allows him to communicate with people in a more immersive way.

Adam Scott

“The beauty of working on a larger scale is that I am able to tell a more powerful and compelling narrative, allowing the audience to interact and engage with the structure externally and internally,” Ilori tells Curbed.

“Color Palace” is the a jolt of energy architecture needs: It’s a compelling installation that’s both culturally specific and universally expressive, and invites people to learn more about creative engineering techniques. The pavilion is the antithesis of unapproachable, stark, white cubes that have come to be the stereotype of modern architecture—and it’s invigorating.