Installation of a Kraken Crafted from Reclaimed Wood Extends its Tentacles in Lyon.

Description from the architects: Le Kraken is a temporary structure that occupies the central plaza of the historic location housing Les SUBS and the Lyon ENSBA fine arts university. Key statistics of The Kraken include: a width of 25 meters, a height of 15 meters, 180 meters of tentacles, 1,000 square meters of reclaimed wood used, a construction period of 6 weeks, and a team of 30 professionals and students involved.

A shiver runs down one’s spine at the sight of the Kraken (UV lab), a wooden entity that seems to have emerged from the depths of another era or perhaps an alternate history. Nevertheless, it stands before us, extending its tentacles across “LES SUBS and ENSBA LYON,” inviting an encounter.

The awe-inspiring Ora and its chilling aura swiftly vanish as we traverse through the Kraken, engage with it, and learn more, rendering the creature less fearsome. It serves as a venue for events and spectacles, while also remaining a majestic figure for us to admire from afar.

The Kraken can be perceived in three distinct manners. Firstly, referring to the Kraken as “it” is contentious due to its “vivant” nature. The way we interact with it—touching, walking within, and climbing—imbues it with a sense of life. It is organic, not merely in representation but in actuality. The wood from which it is made lives; it breathes, contracts, and evolves over time. In this context, the enormity and the sublime aesthetic qualities are less significant. Typically, sublime artworks are not tactile; consider whether one can touch Michelangelo’s David or glide their hand over the glossy exterior of Jeff Koons’s enormous Balloon Dog.

The Kraken also symbolizes the challenge to conventional architectural integrity, embodying the tension between collapse and resilience. This creature generates an atmosphere of vulnerability, yet it simultaneously breathes “life” into structures that defy traditional spatial norms and designs. It represents a grotesque entity where the boundaries between “inside” and “outside” blur, fostering a sense of “inclusion.” This is not merely a symbolic act; it is a continuous practice where elements of flawed architecture, perceived instability, and mythological ambiguity intertwine to reframe human interaction as a dialogue, exploration, and play.