Madeleine Kessler Architecture


Colour Memories

Madeleine was invited by the Museum of Architecture to contribute to their Colour Memories exhibition in collaboration with Manijeh Verghese.

Colour Memories celebrates the role of colour in architecture and design. Madeleine and Manijeh's colour memory is based around the landscapes found in Hieronymous Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, which frames Earth as a middle ground of beauty, hedonistic activity and delight between the extremes of Heaven and Hell. The grisaille or greyscale panels of the closed painting belie a technicolour interior filled with surreal activity. The painting has been a key inspiration for our project at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, where it’s triptych format has guided our exploration of privatised public space, allowing us to delve into a middle ground that breaks the binary understanding of the utopia of the commons before the enclosures acts of the 18th century and the dystopia of total privatisation.

When designing our concept, we began by un-inhabiting Bosch’s painting - revealing verdant and heavenly landscapes, now devoid of human life. This was a startling moment for us, revealing how nature unifies the composition, whilst people and activity bring spaces to life. Bosch’s surrealist elements include oversized fruit, dream-like landscapes and imaginative natural architectures, providing bursts of pink and red against a background of golden lime green, meant to symbolise goodness – all evidencing humans living in harmony with nature, amongst green landscapes that allow us to thrive. Our colour memory asks everyone to question how we can better work with nature to rewild our cities and urban spaces, rather than against it?

As part of the exhibition, Madeleine and Manijeh were also invited to take part in a conversation about culture and colour with Charles Holland Architects, Afterparti and Rob Fiehn.

Visit the exhibition online on the Museum of Architecture website here.

Image Credit: Madeleine Kessler & Manijeh Verghese