Design Vanguard 2020: Space Popular
Space Popular is directed by Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg, both graduates of the Architectural Association in London, where they now teach. They founded the practice in Bangkok in 2013, and have been based in London since 2016. Space Popular creates spaces, objects, and events in both physical and virtual space, concentrating on how the two realms will blend together in the near future. The multidisciplinary studio has completed buildings, exhibitions, public artworks, furniture collections, and interiors across Asia and Europe, as well as virtual architecture in the Immersive Internet.
Infinity Spa: Housed within two standard Bangkok shops, Infinity Spa is an exercise in object versus background. The concrete shells share the same layouts, sizes, proportions, and materials. The aim was to visually eliminate the concrete shell with the use of few materials—paint, light, and textiles—and to concentrate the attention on the nearly 20 custom-designed furniture pieces that would communicate purpose in an otherwise muted space where all the surfaces form a neutral glowing backdrop. What started as a technical environmental necessity—absolute light and temperature control for the spa treatments—became the driving experiential feature.
Brick Vault House: For this prototype house in Valencia, Spain, a thin steel frame superstructure, painted green, serves as a grid system that can be easily replicated or used in different configurations to suit various-sized plots and programs. Here, the grid is partially filled with white cubes that make up the open-plan living areas and the bedrooms, leaving a number of covered outdoor spaces. The shallow masonry arched ceilings are a version of a Catalan vault, popular in the region.
The Wardian Case: Part of the 2019 exhibition DE/CODING, the Wardian Case was displayed in the tapestry rooms at the Palazzo Reale in Milan. An early type of terrarium invented in 1829, these containers were used to transport rare plants between different continents and climates. Space Popular’s Wardian Case was presented as a symbolic bearer of information and knowledge to be accessed through both physical and digital realms. Emphasized by contact with various textures of fabric and virtual-reality vision, the augmented dimensions of the room are unveiled, just like the narratives of its tapestries.
DESIGN STAFF: 2
PRINCIPALS: Fredrik Hellberg and Lara Lesmes
EDUCATION: Hellberg: Architectural Association School of Architecture, Diploma (Hons) 2011. Lesmes: Architectural Association School of Architecture, Diploma 2011
WORK HISTORY: Hellberg: Sauerbruch Hutton, 2008–09; Stephane Paumier Architects, New Delhi, 2009. Lesmes: Selgascano, 2005–07.
KEY COMPLETED PROJECTS: Freestyle, London, 2020; Brick Vault House, Valencia, Spain, 2019; Gate of Bright Lights, Seoul, 2019; The Wardian Case, Milan, 2019; Value in the Virtual, Stockholm, 2018; Infinity Spa, Bangkok, 2016
KEY CURRENT PROJECT: Infinity Wellbeing, Bangkok