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What makes architecture more than just building? This riddle is as old as architecture itself. While the entire history of the discipline is dedicated to debating the answer, there is one common refrain: architecture effects. It doesn’t just affect; it brings about something new. This is always true in theory, but rare in practice. All architecture promises effects, but a building that actually produces them inflects history itself.

This happened with the opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997. The transformation of the city by global visitors, as well as the redefined role of the museum as an icon of cultural and social change, steered what came to be known as the “Bilbao Effect.” Pioneering in its use of digital technology for design, construction, and image circulation, Frank Gehry’s building set a new standard for the effects of architecture with the very tools that would soon transform life itself.

Architecture Effects is an exhibition of contemporary architecture, art, and storytelling that responds to the everyday magic we have come to expect two decades later. The show traces the effects now pervading contemporary life, from those of the logistical and material substrates of our world to identity, consciousness, and ritual. 

Architecture Effects includes three connected territories: Airlock, Garden, and Bubble, the latter being a digital dimension available to visitors as a free app. The exhibition experience is designed for a constant back-and-forth between the material and the virtual, the ancient and the futuristic, allowing visitors to feel hyper-connected not only in space and time but also in body and spirit. It provides an environment for thinking about and also performing along with the works on view.

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