All the Gravity, All the Air, 2013 – 2017
610 x 110 x 120 cm
Benches, conference tables, sideboards, coffee tables
Various materials and sizes
Concrete, steel reinforcement
500 x 24.5 x 24.5 cm
Bronze, perforated steel
50 x 25 x 2.5 cm
© 2014, Martin Boyce
Image copyright Stefan AltenburgerI’m interested in the idea of a controlled nature, a landscape, like you find in parks and gardens.
A landscape is an imagined whole: nature becomes a picture, conceived of as an aesthetic ensemble. Which in turn makes it an expression of how we want nature to be: sometimes rough and unfamiliar, then quaint and inviting, but always as an all-embracing atmosphere, as a striking impression. “I’m interested in the idea of a controlled nature,” he says, “a landscape, like you find in parks and gardens. Here, nature is combined with an element of architecture", says Martin Boyce. In the entrance zone of Swiss Re Next, exteriors join interiors and nature meets man-made. Boyce calls his concept All the Gravity, All the Air. Outside the building, just in front of the glass doors, the landscape begins with a geometric pattern in aggregate-enriched asphalt around angular and angled concrete columns. The latter are reminiscent of the concrete trees designed in the 1920s by the brothers Jan and Joël Martel for an exhibition of modernist design in Paris. Inside, in the reception and the surrounding areas, the stone floor bears a similarly regular, jaggedly geometrical pattern. The columns are also repeated here. The unusual reception desk fits with this special atmosphere of the area. Made out of a single piece of pale marble, it dominates the space, like a meteorite that has fallen to earth, dynamic and alien, fascinating and mysterious. Compared with the reception desk, the small ventilation grilles that Boyce has set into the walls look like a minor detail. But in an understated way, All the Gravity, All the Air comes into its own again here. Unlike the constructions in concrete, stone and marble, the grilles bring a lightness into the space. A fresh breeze seems to flow from them. In fact, the building does not need such ventilation openings; Swiss Re Next is built to the latest environmental standards and breathes through its ceilings. Finally the furniture in the waiting area complement Boyce's concept. The curved shapes and elegant wooden slats of the benches make them look like taken from a park. “The idea,” Boyce says, “is for it to look as if the entire building has been erected on top of a park or garden with a geometric layout."