Although the other commissions on this 200-acre site were objects in the landscape, our response was to make a place for gathering. Sensory Journey entices people to participate with a series of interactive elements that draw their attention to the surroundings. Whether for family fun, quiet conversation, or as part of a school program, the pavilion frames views and provides shade and places to inhabit. However, beyond the pragmatic, it is a place of playful encounters focusing our senses on the beauty of the rural landscape. The experience goes beyond vision to olfactory, haptic, auditory, and tactile experiences and is fully accessible to those with wheelchairs or mobility issues. A walk through the structure is equally enjoyable for people with low vision, given its high contrast and bright colors. The interventions in metalwork provide smell stations, swinging chimes, simple devices for talking to others through tubes, and periscopes that view the tree line.
The pavilion’s material components are educational and functional. To further discuss the natural world, the installation is oriented precisely on the compass points so that its shadows can serve as a sundial.
1. Wood: 126, 4×4-inch, 10-foot-high posts stained black. The timber columns, set 16 inches apart, are organized into a three-part pathway that leads from the woods to an open meadow. The wood frames create an armature for sensory experiences that can be collective or personal. The 125-foot-long path invites exploration.
2. Fire pit: The time-honored tradition of gathering around a campfire brings people together. with the combination of the warming flames and inward focus. Located at the center of the pavilion, it relates to the seating and table area forming an informal theater for acting or simply fostering social bonding amongst neighbors, classmates, and neighbors. The Art Omi staff conducts educational classes for children and social events at the pavilion.
3. Sensory experiences. There are four types of custom-fabricated metal elements dispersed throughout the wooden structure.
• Green: A gathering of pipes hover over seasonal herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary)
• Blue: Periscopes aim at the surrounding trees and the sky.• Coral: Wind chimes swing from the joists.
• Yellow: 30-foot lengths of pipe with bellows at either end, one above, hung from the joists, and one below ground. They allow visitors to talk with each other through this surprisingly effective, low-tech invention.
Sensory Journey is simply built with very modest funding. The design and execution took place during the pandemic lockdown, so when contractors were unavailable, it was painted and assembled in part by our studio. We made this project because we are committed to community learning. Through our work, we want to raise environmental awareness and talk boldly and directly about human equity. We respect all people and promote unique ways of experiencing the world.
Alon Koppel Photography (photography)