2018-09-18 08:32Press release

Space Popular are standing on the threshold of the virtual city


In Value in the Virtual, Space Popular unfold an immersive installation exploring the role of architecture, and architects, in the design of virtual worlds. As the London-based architecture studio’s first exhibition in Sweden, Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg offer a glimpse to a future in which our experience of everyday life, our homes, and our cities will be radically transformed.

“As architects and academics, Space Popular are pushing at the boundaries of what space-making in physical and virtual worlds can and could be. With Value in the Virtual, they articulate a direction for architecture that interfaces with cognitive science, colour theory, and the spectacular possibilities of an imminent, immersive virtual reality.”

—James Taylor-Foster, curator of contemporary architecture and design at ArkDes

Rooted in real environments that can be found in Stockholm, Value in the Virtual offers insight into what happens to the built environment when architecture, and architects, are no longer required to take assumed natural limits into account. Without the need to consider the effects of gravity, light, or material properties, the design of spatial environments becomes limited only by imagination. As a result, Value in the Virtual explores shifting value systems in a future virtual ‘built’ environment.

"We hope to give a glimpse of a change that many believe will occur even faster than when smartphones were first introduced. In the near future, we will live in several parallel virtual worlds simultaneously, together with our colleagues, friends, and family. Virtual Reality will help to create revolutionary opportunities for all industries but it will also pose challenges, not least of all to architects, urban planners, and designers who will no longer have total control over the design of built environments. This shift will fundamentally change architectural values—such as place, size, material, comfort, and aesthetics—which will, in turn, change the economy that drives urban development,” says Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg (Space Popular).

Virtual Reality (VR), which was first employed in the gaming world, is now used as a tool in many industries. Thanks to accelerating technological advances, virtual worlds will soon be inhabitable – we will interact with one another within them, build our own identities, and experience the built environment through them.

“It is our collective duty, both as potential users and as citizens of liveable domains yet to be designed, to take responsibility for this technology. With Value in the Virtual Boxen becomes a shared space and testing ground for discussion about the role of the architect, and of architecture, in the burgeoning virtual sphere,” says James Taylor-Foster, curator of Space Popular: Value in the Virtual.

About the Exhibition

Space Popular: Value in the Virtual will be on display at ArkDes between September 19th and November 18th 2018. Admission is free of charge.

Curator: James Taylor-Foster

Special Advisor: William Hamilton

Assistants: Ludvig Holmen, Daniel Tayar-Watson

Graphic Identity: Studio Reko

About Space Popular

Lara Lesmes (Spain) and Fredrik Hellberg (Sweden), both graduates from the Architectural Association in London, founded Space Popular in Bangkok in 2013. Based in London since 2016, the practice works at multiple scales: from furniture and interior design to architecture, urbanism, and the design of virtual worlds. Lesmes and Hellberg have extensive teaching experience at INDA (Bangkok) and the Architectural Association and have lectured and participated as visiting critics internationally. Beyond their academic experience, Space Popular has ongoing and realised built projects and exhibitions in Europe and Asia.

Boxen at ArkDes

Boxen is a platform for fast-changing, experimental exhibitions. It provides space for alternative voices to inspire discussions about architecture, design, and their relationship to society by promoting radical and responsive installations, exhibitions, events and dialogues by and between architects, designers, and thinkers. Boxen has been designed by Dehlin Brattgård Architects (Stockholm) and opened in June 2018. 


ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.

Our mission is to increase knowledge of and cultivate debate about how architecture and design affect our lives as citizens.Sweden is in the middle of an unprecedented building boom, one that will define its towns and cities for decades to come. The work of ArkDes aims to influence this change through debate, exhibitions, campaigns and research relating to Swedish and international architecture and design. We aim to put the citizens at the centre of the debate and look at the world through their eyes.

About ArkDes (The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design)

ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.