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Indepth Arts News:

"Approach the Future: The Asymptote Experience"
2003-09-27 until 2004-01-18
Netherlands Architecture Institute
Rotterdam, , NL Netherlands

The installation for the exhibition of the New York-based architectural practice Asymptote: Rashid and Couture, breaks like a wave into the NAI's largest gallery. It encompasses a 10,000 square foot exhibition of Asymptote's extensive ongoing body of work from 1989 until the present. The suspended undulating grid, which begins as a ceiling at one end of the gallery, descends and divides the gallery into separate spaces at the other end was designed by Asymptote as a means of not only exhibiting the works but also as a dramatic spatial organizational system and experience. The installation is a dramatic architectural gesture that clarifies many of Asymptote's ideas and works by presenting them in dynamic combinations of built works, numerous maquettes, virtual reality environments, furniture designs and speculative drawings and spatial studies. Also on exhibition for the first time since its being exhibited at Documenta XI in Kassel will be the Flux 3.0 installation. Asymptote was founded in 1989 by Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture in New York City.

Architecture and visual art

Asymptote has an international reputation for both their architectural productions and design work as well as for their visual and art-based projects. From their base in New York city, Rashid and Couture extend their interests into a wide variety of projects throughout the world. They first achieved international recognition in 1989 for their competition-winning project entitled the Steel Cloud, a visionary proposal for a multi-functional building suspended high above the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles.

Rashid and Couture have subsequently gone on to design numerous extraordinary and ground breaking buildings and environments. Their clients include BMW, Mercedes Benz, Osaka gas, the Solomon R Guggenheim, Knoll International, Alessi and the New York Stock Exchange.

The Netherlands

In 2001 Rashid and Couture were commissioned to design and build the Hydra-Pier, an entrance pavilion for the 2002 Floriade in Haarlemmermeer in the Netherlands. In their design for this pavilion, now a gallery, media center and restaurant, Asymptote gives form to existing elements in the landscape with references not only to Schiphol Airport but also to the continuing Dutch phenomena of constructing nature. The Hydra-Pier's two-part sloping roof, inspired by the mathematics and forms of flight technologies, hovers above the entrance which is formed by a double waterfall that cascades from the roof slopes.

Architecture according to Asymptote

For Rashid and Couture architecture is more than the execution of designs for buildings or spaces. Architecture begins with ideas and can often times end in experiment or manifestation. Central to Asymptote's designs is the question whether there is a single static reality, or a multiplicity of conflicting realities. Or is the image itself our only grip on reality? Rashid and Couture find inspiration in the multiplicity of possibilities that experimental architecture can offer and couple that with the ambiguities and realities embedded in popular culture. They make use of developments in information technology, organic information systems and the dynamics and tectonics that surround us in media, advertising and product design. Asymptote probes the very meaning of architecture in this post-information age, and through the knowledgeable and versatile use of digital technologies and sophisticated media strategies they manage to alter our perception of space and time.


The spectacular design for the exhibition gives the visitor the experience of Asymptote's extensive body of work and poses a number of questions about an optimistic future as they envision it. The exhibition provides an overview of Rashid and Couture's oeuvre. Never before have so many works by this renowned duo been exhibited in one venue. The exhibition's highlights will be the enormous installation 'Flux 3.0', the futuristic working environment 'Knoll A3', the 'Writing Space', the virtual environment for the New York Stock Exchange and the Virtual Guggenheim Museum as well as a large number of building designs, interiors and prints.

Hydra-Pier, now Harlemmermeerpavillon,
Hoofddorf, NL, 2002

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