The Museum of Emotions competition challenged us to evoke primal emotional responses in visitors using architecture alone. Sited by the Giardini della Biennale in Venice, our entry creates a secular heaven and hell.
Our heaven is the undulating roof of the building, which overlooks the gardens and offers long views down the canal. The roof curls up at one end like a surfer’s wave, which morphs into a curved mast looped into an infinity symbol. The mast holds a sail that luffs in the breeze and shades the roof. The rooftop conveys joy, delight, and even awe.
Our hell, by contrast, is a dark, stepped hall that slips below ground and slopes towards the murky canal. Wide but claustrophobic, the low curved ceiling presses down on visitors, nudging them towards the rising water to evoke anxiety, fear, and dread.
We like that the same undulating surface drives the contrasting emotions of each zone: joy on the roof and anxiety in the basement. This suggests that heaven and hell are two sides of the same coin or, perhaps, that each zone actually creates the other. It could also imply that the difference between them comes from one’s relationship to each.