Window to Columbus is a volcanic glazed brick wall with an inset window. This window will serve as a mini-museum with a fortnightly exhibition telling stories about the materials that have helped to define Washington Street and the architecture of Columbus at large. The six exhibitions are co-curated by Formafantasma and Tricia Gilson of Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives.
Formafantasma is an Amsterdam-based design studio headed up by the Italian-born duo Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin. Their work is characterized by material investigations, a keen attention to tradition and local culture, a critical approach to sustainability and a strong focus on the cultural values of objects. Context and process are informed by the historical, political and social forces of the time. The studio perceives themselves as a bridge between craft, industry, object and user, with the aim of forging links between their research-based practice and the wider design industry.
London-based Dzek creates original architectural materials and products in collaboration with designers. Founded by Brent Dzekciorius in 2013, Dzek's work combines a craft sensibility with optimism about the potential of industrial manufacturing. They believe that great architecture is made from elements that tell a story about their time and place. Their holistic approach to materials making respects the achievements of the past while advancing future possibilities. Dzek aims to create products with artistic significance, that allow architects and interior designers to forge meaningful new relationships between people and the spaces they occupy.
The building at 538 Franklin Street began its life as the William O. Hogue House. Built in 1870, Hogue’s modest, two-story Italianate house anchors the northwest corner of Franklin and Sixth streets. A small green space connects this house to the Samuel Harris House, completed in 1853. In 1878, a Gothic wrought-iron fence retrieved from a Cincinnati orphanage was placed along the sidewalk connecting these two houses. In 1970, both houses and the connecting garden were renovated as part of the Franklin Square development. Xenia S. Miller planned the garden between the two houses and the brick wall to screen the parking lot. The historic structure became home to the Heritage Fund -- Community Foundation of Bartholomew County in 2002.
Material and Fabrication
Formafantasma has spent two years researching volcanic substances in collaboration with Dzek, a producer of innovative architectural materials. The bricks that make up Window to Columbus were glazed with their unique formula that includes ash, salt, and clay from Mount Etna in Sicily. As these special bricks made the long voyage from the UK, Taylor Bros. Construction Co. prepared the site by pouring a footing and building a core concrete block wall. A team of three local bricklayers spent three days laying the bricks. For the side of the wall facing the street, Formafantasma chose a traditional brick pattern to harmonize with surrounding buildings. A neon arrow points the way to the wall’s west side, where Formafantasma designed an unexpected asymmetrical brick layout. With the steel and aluminum exhibit window, the lighting system, and the galvanized steel roof sealed with tar, the installation contains many of the structures of a full-sized building, an architectural microcosm.