top of page

2016 MCHAP.emerge

House Paint Pavilion / “thefirstoneiscrazythesecondoneisnuts"

Nick Gelpi

Detroit, MI, USA

September 2015




Markus Linnenbrink (Painter / Artist)


Gary Wasserman


Ryan Debolski


This pavilion was designed to be painted... Conceived of as an inhabitable painting in the shape of a house, the familiar form of the pavilion blurs the surfaces between the walls of a building and the painting displayed upon it. On the exterior, the painting bleeds through the surface as a series of engraved lines which mimic the appearance of unusually configured exterior house siding. Formally, the pavilion was designed to act as a piece of inhabitable art and architecture, whose shape is drawn from the compositional strategies of the painter and the form making strategies of the architect. As a space, the pavilion was charged with activating the generic gallery space in a variety of ways, as a closed inhabitable pavilion, and when opened up, as a backdrop against which events such as musical performances could take place. The pavilion was also intended to exhibit the collaborative process itself. The process of collaboration involved the integration of the architect’s form and the artist’s composition. Each collaborator worked simultaneously with lines of pattern and folds integrating both into a single immersive field. Small scale sketches were enlarged to the scale of a building in an otherwise absurd act, and fabricated at the domestic scale of a house. This new synthesis in the pavilion serves to blur boundaries and find possibilities for new experiences between art and architecture. The pavilion was to be constructed of standard residential wood framing on 16 inch spacing, joined with lasercut steel gusset plates. Birch plywood panels were machined with grooves on the exterior displaying the underlying composition of the interior painting.


This project was commissioned to mark the grand opening of a new arts center and gallery, housed within a renovated fire station in the eastern market neighborhood of Detroit. The existing building which housed the gallery was largely preserved intact, with little modification to its rough walls and exposed concrete floors. As a result the pavilion was conceived of as a freestanding structure which not only created a type of space which was diverse from its surroundings, but also created a new type of surface for displaying art, one that blurred the boundary between the art and architecture itself. The house shape was explored for its reference to the surrounding residential housing fabric of Detroit, which is so emblematic of the dire economic situation where Detroit has found itself. The pavilion served to exhibit art in a way unique from the display of art on the permanent walls of the gallery. The shape of the pavilion lends it a recognizable identity as a piece of domestic architecture, in which the art hung on its walls has assumed the identity of the structure by overtaking the house, and blurring the boundary between art and architecture. In this way the pavilion challenges the typical modes of art display, by reversing the hierarchy, whereby paintings are typically hung on walls. Here the pavilion emerges out of the compositional folds of the painting itself. What results is an ambiguous figure, almost a house, almost a painting, maybe a sculpture, but not quite the right size. It is de-familiarizing in subtle ways.


The small scale painting of Linnenbrink was mapped onto digitally fabricated panels, which once assemble, located the painting in 3 dimensional space. On the exterior, the painting bleeds through the surface as a series of engraved lines. The engravings resemble typical exterior siding while at other times morph into meandering lines turning against the grain of the pavilion's folds. Visitors to the gallery observe flat works of art hung on the walls, and when they encounter the freestanding pavilion are invited to enter inside where they become immersed within a 3 dimensional spatial painting. On the exterior, users explore the undulating folds of the plywood surfaces, peering inside through small windows strangely positioned within the compositional engravings of the exterior. Each of the individual openings frames a unique perspective of the pavilion’s interior, some low and some tall, creating a variety of unique views extracted from a single composition based on privileged perspectives in space. The pavilion is built in two symmetrical halves on a steel frame with Detroit sourced industrial casters and is designed to be split open or pushed back together along a central seam. When opened the two halves create a space in between, allowing the surrounding environment to flow into the pavilion, and when together they create an interior environment, which is optically difficult to comprehend. Users often sit on the edges of the central split, gazing from one side to the other while observing the two halves of the house and its painted surfaces in space.

bottom of page