Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects - Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga

Christchurch Architects Creating for FESTA this Weekend

October 17, 2018

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Christchurch’s FESTA (The Festival of Transitional Architecture) is a public festival of architecture, design and food, and it's happening this weekend.

FESTA has partnered with the Canterbury branch of NZIA to explore connections between food and the city and Johanna Griffith, from our Christchurch studio, is part of the team behind one of the main installations. It's in the headline event, FEASTA and is about 'dining out on your imagination'.

Christchurch architects creating for FESTA. Cut

Your FESTA installation is called ‘Sounds like dinner’, how did it come about?

Festa presented us with a number of themes to delve into. One of these was the future of food, which was what we were most interested in. The main driver is the exploration of highly-processed and artificial food. This is coupled with the idea that one day we will be able to receive all of our daily sustenance by simply ingesting a single pill.

Christchurch architects working for FESTA. Beetroot + Pill

Our installation is a sensory experience for our future selves. It's about the day we no longer require rituals of preparing and eating food, made redundant by the ‘one stop shop pill’.

Christchurch architects working together. Carrot + Pill for FESTA

The sounds and smells of food being prepared and eaten are examined alongside changes in food production, from traditional methods (like chopping pumpkins) to the artificial (like eating a pumpkin soup pill). 

What will it all look and sound like?

The work will mainly be presented through audio and visual imagery, projected onto a façade, which is designed to act as a time vortex. This will take people into the future to see what dinner would be like in 50 years’ time.

Once inside, the audience will find a table flipped upside down and  a series of tubes with sound cones. Standing underneath these will take the visitor through the experience of preparing and cooking dinner with traditional, current and future methodologies.  

The concept prompts both intrigue and dread. Really honing in on the small but fundamental elements of putting together a meal  made us hyper-aware to how important these elements are, within the procession of preparing, cooking and feasting on a meal.

Can you imagine making popcorn without the distinctive patter of popping? Or waiting for a meal to be dished without chatter around the table? Losing all this would be a real shame. 

Who have you been working with you?

Our team is made up of Daniel Crooks from Opus, Ollie Ayrey from +Map and Lee Manning–Smith from OCTA; three architectural graduates and one project manager. We started working in June, when we submitted our design to the FESTA panel.

 initial concepts for the installation

I wouldn’t like to calculate  how many hours we’ve spent but it definitely caused an early end to the ski season.

Creating an audiovisual installation must have challenged a bunch of architectural graduates?

Yes, the greatest challenge was making it all happen, bringing the concept into reality! It's meant we’ve had to delve into  areas that are beyond our expertise, like hardwiring LEDs and film and audio processes.

Fortunately, in asking for help we've met some really great people. We've loved working with Upskill CHCH, they're part of a collective warehouse that offers practical skills workshops and small studios for local artists, some of whom were a big help in the development of our content. 

Where in Christchurch can people experience your installation?

It’s live for one night only, this Saturday 20 October, 5–11pm in Mollett Street, (Sunday 21 October if it's raining). Free entry, come along!