Interview with SO – IL


An interview with the co-founders of SO – IL, Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu, around their collaboration with maat, the concept and ideation of Beeline – the major architecture intervention they were commissioned to realize for maat. 


Beeline is unprecedented in both scale and ambition and SO – IL’s largest piece of ephemeral architecture to date. It was designed to host maat Mode, a five-month-long experimental participatory public programme of talks and other events initiated by maat’s new Director Beatrice Leanza, a project presented as an open-ended exercise in interrogating the role of cultural institutions in society and prototyping the future museum. 


In the words of the architects, “Beeline might trigger insight into our perception of space as well as time. An additional pathway dissects the maat building both in plan and section. This shortcut connects the entrance from the quayside directly, with a new access point facing the city. This gesture not only transforms the way visitors enter and experience the museum, but it also links the formal entry to a new ‘clandestine’ entrance through the loading dock. As such, this transformation not only opens up the building to new perspectives, but also challenges the implied hierarchies of spaces in a traditional museum and provides flexibility for an ever-evolving organisation.” 


The intervention turns the museum into a landscape of encounters and conversations, taking audiences through elevated pathways, stage areas, sound capsules, video rooms and workshop zones. A further set of other design strategies have been developed that will become permanent assets of the museum, namely an "open storage system" that lends itself to multiple reconfigurations and deployment upon need, and a "mobile staging structure", which can similarly be deployed according to the requirements of programmes in various areas. 

Photo: Vicent Tullo.




Video by Thomas Piper. 


Founded in New York in 2008, SO – IL is an architectural studio led by Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu that not only produces permanent buildings but also thinks about architecture in relation to time and duration.


SO – IL’s largest piece of ephemeral architecture to date, Beeline (maat, 10/06/2020 – 04/02/2021) is designed to host maat Mode 2020, an experimental participatory public programme of talks and other events. With architecture by SO – IL (Florian Idenburg, Martina Baratta, Yuanjun Summer Liu), "Beeline" was produced by maat in partnership with ArtWorks.