Architecture Exhibit Uses Scents To Reconstruct Historical Spaces

Perfumers, architects, preservationists, and artists develop an imaginitive olfactory experience.

They say scent has a direct connection to our most personal memories and imagination. But what about historical or collective memory?

Happening in conjunction to a symposium titled Test Sites: Experiments in the History of Space, the California College of the Arts (CCA) Architecture Division developed An Olfactory Archive: 1100-1969, an exhibit where visitors explored historical spaces through different fragrances, including scents that recall the Middle Ages, agrarian and urban landscapes or even a distinct building like Philip Johnson’s Glass House. The scents were created by perfumers, architects, preservationists and artists in an exhibition that shows off an innovative way of imagining architectural spaces. The formal description of the exhibit describes the goals of the interdisciplinary project:

Ultimately, this exhibition presents recent and alternative ways to interpret the history of space and to potentially make architecture, interior and landscape history a simultaneously more vanguard and public enterprise. It integrates CCA’s traditions of craft, maker-culture and progressive historical education into a cohesive and contemporary project.

The exhibit asserts the value of scents in carrying our imagination to far away places and even manipulate our sense of time. There are limits however. Dawn Goldworm is a scent expert that has called out the impossibility of recreating the smell of a baby as an example.

For a detailed list of the talent involved, visit Archinect.

For more photos, check out the CCA’s Flickr page.

CCA

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