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Common Sky ‒ a glass tree generates an inclusive space

This site-specific piece at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum was created for the reopening of the time-honored complex following extension and upgrade works

Studio Other Spaces

Common Sky Studio Other Spaces Buffalo
By Editorial Staff -

A sculptural and geometric composition that artfully draws on the effects of mixing glass and light to underscore the importance of physical movement in shaping space. This is the impression conveyed by Common Sky ‒ a new work from Studio Other Spaces (SOS), founded by the artist Olafur Eliasson and the architect Sebastian Behmann ‒ conceived to mark the reopening of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, which this summer returned to welcoming visitors after a three-year overhaul.

The site-specific piece accompanies and completes the extension and upgrading project, helmed by Shohei Shigematsu from the OMA studio, for the time-honored Albright Knox Gundlach Art Museum complex. Shunning ordinary tenets of aesthetics, Common Sky perfectly melds sculpture with architectural design, to celebrate the sky as a collective entity. Spreading to cover the courtyard to the Seymour H. Knox Building, the structure traces out an inclusive community space that is open to the public and usable by all as it connects the historic parts of the museum with the neighboring Delaware Park. An element generating spatial harmony that successfully converses with the original modernist design.

A transparent canopy alternating glass and mirror panels establishes a firm connection between visitors and the surrounding environment, ushering in natural light while creating a light/shadow interplay that changes throughout the year and with the seasons. Engaging with the installation, you find yourself plunged into an alternative world, with fragmented perspectives that extend not only inside but also outside. Set at a variety of angles, the mirror panels create hypnotic kaleidoscope-like reflections framing unexpected views, which change as you gradually cross the courtyard.


Common Sky at Buffalo AKG Art Museum - Studio Other Spaces Photography by and courtesy of Studio Other Spaces


Triangles and hexagons of reflective light

The design is essentially made up of triangles with a core of a central hexagon, balancing the openings and closures. The glass and mirrored surfaces are reflective, thus keeping irradiation to a minimum and endowing the structure with greater sustainability.

"Common Sky is a dynamic, sculptural statement that combines a geometric language and a playful, poetic approach. As an artwork, it sensitizes you to the world outside, to the surrounding environment of Buffalo. It draws your attention to things that are difficult to measure, and to things that depend on emotion and on your active involvement. If you don't get involved, nothing will change."
Olafur Eliasson, Studio Other Spaces


Common Sky at Buffalo AKG Art Museum - Studio Other Spaces Photography by and courtesy of Studio Other Spaces


A glass hawthorn tree

The installation Common Sky was created as a tribute to the old hawthorn tree that once stood on this spot and extended its roots into the park's ground. The design by SOS in fact picks up on the shape of the tree through a single decentralized funnel-like column that holds up the entire canopy and removes the need for further support.

"Common Sky forms a unique design that takes into account all of the surrounding elements from the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, including the park, and neighboring buildings. We created a site-specific artwork that amplifies the existing situation and combines it with the idea of a modern courtyard. We hope visitors enjoy this new space that is accessible to everyone all year round, in all weather conditions, and without a ticket."
Sebastian Behmann, Studio Other Spaces


>>> Also explore the new spaces at London's Young V&A


Location: Buffalo, NY, United States
Completion: 2023
Architect: Studio Other Spaces (SOS)
Client: Buffalo AKG Art Museum 

Photography by and courtesy of Studio Other Spaces

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