A Play on Cages: La Cage aux Folles by Warren Techentin

A massive, interactive Victorian birdcage turns regular old pipes into a  jungle gym for all ages in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.

When visiting Materials & Applications, an outdoor exhibition space in Los Angeles, you’ll find a magnificent and mysterious architectural installation by Warren Techentin – and at first glance, it’ll look something like a scaled-up wire birdcage. But Techentin has turned this simple shape into something much more phenomenal.

The installation is made entirely of 346 individual pipes – an often-overlooked core element of architecture and construction. In this piece, the pipes are in the spotlight. With a design generated through algorithms and inspired by traditional Mongolian yurts, the pipes form a cage like structure with natural bends and curves within it. The twisted and manipulated pipes are a distinct nod to famed architect Marcel Breuer.

The structure itself is incredibly reminiscent of Victorian birdcages, with the organic and fluid lines all trapped within the sharp enclosure. At the same time, the monolithic installation almost looks like a folly – or a garden structure. Like most follies, they play many roles: from exotic, poetic, and inviting objects to event and performance spaces. But in the end, the folly always draws attention – and there is no denying that isn’t true of Les Cage Aux Folles.

The engaging piece has already been home to many performers, artists, and musicians – and on a hot, summer day, you’ll even find kids using it as a jungle gym. Les Cage Aux Folles is a structure so dynamic and democratic that any person can discover a new interpretation of it.

The installation will be up all summer – and we can’t wait to see what other mysteries are hidden inside the Victorian pipe cage.

Photography courtesy of Warren Techentin