The Victoria and Albert Museum has commissioned Do Ho Suh, whose practice centers on the idea of home as both a physical structure and a lived experience, to create a work in response to the architecture and interiors of Robin Hood Gardens before they are demolished. Suh’s panoramic film is both site-specific and time-specific—a document of Alison and Peter Smithson’s modular interiors as they have been adapted, decorated, and furnished by residents, as well as a wider meditation about home, memory, and displacement within a physical structure that is about to disappear.
Given access to four flats, three of which were still occupied, Suh has used time-lapse photography, drone footage, 3D-scanning, and photogrammetry to create a visual journey in which the camera pans vertically and horizontally through the building, moving seamlessly from one space to another. The film’s steady, contemplative pace and constant, frontal viewpoint function as a framework within which the myriad details that denote differences of taste, style, culture, or circumstance from flat to flat are revealed. As part of his dialogue with the residents, the artist asked each to sit in their favourite chair, and the resulting scenes act as markers within the overall rhythm of the film. In his films and sculptural works, Suh often uses the idea of movement to convey a distinct emotional register: a sense of being in flux, crossing boundaries, or travelling between psychological states. Here, the sustained motion of the film accentuates the feeling of transition experienced by the residents and heightens a sense of imminence, of a building on the verge of demolition, less than fifty years after the architects’ utopian vision was completed.