The Babel´s Stair
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for? Robert Browning
Babel´s Stair was designed as a temporary installation for the exhibition “Vi kan bo her mens vi venter” set up in the south harbour of Aarhus, Denmark. It was built with materials borrowed from local companies on the harbour and was conceived as a main entrance to the exhibition which dealt with themes from the Anthropocene- the proposed current geological epoch,
The proposal is meant to serve as a brief journey that entices the visitor to enter the exhibition. The visitor approaches the structure facing the exhibition building and the city. As the visitor ascends the structure to the top, s/he is turned nearly 180 degrees and presented with a view out over Aarhus Harbor. The contrasting perspectives may offer an introductory glimpse into man’s near total infuence over his environment, perhaps only the sight of the water serving as a reminder of natures presence.
The upward spiraling and unfnished aesthetic of the structure is meant as a visual reference to Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s famous depiction of the Tower of Babel. The story and image of the Tower of Babel is one of the earliest and most powerful accounts of man’s (unsuccessful) attempt to surpass nature. The topics addressed in the exhibition beg the question as to whether man has now succeeded in transcending nature, or, if there are –consequences still that lay in wait?
The Tower of Babel was built in bricks. Our tower is built in Euro pallets. Just as bricks in the Tower of Babel were seen as a symbol of the industrious nature of man, the 120x80cm Euro pallet assumes a particularly iconic role in modern society as the nearly indispensable unit for global trade, production, consumption and constant transit of goods. However, its reuse and application as something new and entirely unintended to its original purpose may also be taken as a sign of the changing consciousness of man in his own epoch- a change that looks to re-establish a mutually benefcial relationship to the environment.
On the ground, the structure forms a semi-circular space oriented toward the harbor. Plants and seating are integrated into the structure which, as a whole, serves as a gathering place and iconic backdrop for the exhibition.
Due to its success the stair was adopted into the Rethink Activism Festival- part of Aarhus 2017
Design collaboration with:
Photo credit: And