Each year, the AIANY’s Emerging New York Architect (ENYA) committee and the Structural Engineers Association of New York bring a whimsical, wondrous, and often absurd pavilion to New York’s Governors Island as part of the FIGMENT Festival. This year, FIGMENT held a design competition and 200 designers submitted proposals. The newly announced City of Dreams Competition winner for 2013 is Brooklyn-based Studio Klimoski Chang Architects and their sustainably-minded Head in the Clouds pavilion, comprised of metal rods, and thousands of plastic milk jugs and water bottles.
Cecil Balmond, who famously left ARUP to start his own firm, Cecil Balmond Studio, a couple years ago, has a mesmerizing new project. The ethereal light sculpture, dubbed Snow Words, stretches out towards the Alaskan sky and illuminates the lobby of the new Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage. Suspended between a glazed skylight and a mirrored floor, the 30-foot-high beacon, which opened last month, seems to float within its laser-cut cylindrical shell. Made of LED-lit rods calibrated to a unique sequence, the installation commemorates the officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
In an ongoing endeavor to blend public art, architecture, and urbanism by artists Siyuan and Hwee Chong, The Doors Project subversively projects a series of doors onto public spaces in Singapore, reflecting the struggles of the urban poor and underprivileged. But while commenting on despair, the real message is one of faith, hope and empowerment. “We wanted to make a statement about life, and jolt people to think,” the artists said in an interview at Yolo. “Instead of following the light at the end of the tunnel, why not carry our own lights, and create our own doors! It’s really about rolling up our sleeves, and creating the opportunities we want for ourselves.”
Reimagining the chair as an architectural material
With their focus on “environmental acuity and a critical digital ethic,” Brian Bush and Yong Ju Lee of E/B Office describe themselves as “digital architects” who design ”real projects that are virtually indistinguishable from their digital visions.” Their most recent vision included 300 of IKEA’s pine wood Ivar chairs arching through the air across the wide lawn at Freedom Park in Atlanta, where SEAT was installed earlier this summer for Flux Projects, a public art organization. Bush and Lee hope that SEAT will encourage people to reconsider the chair as more than just a passive, everyday object, but as an architectural structure in and of itself. Indeed, sitting amongst a swooping pavilion built entirely out of chairs, it would be difficult not to.
No doubt you’ve seen the Ivar chair before, or something like it. Popular for its low price ($24.99) and ability to be painted any color, Ivar is so basic it’s the kind of chair that should pop right up when you do a Google Image search for “chair” (it doesn’t, though IKEA’s Poang does). Because they came from IKEA, all 300 were assembled by hand by Bush, Lee and a team of 15. The chairs were unaltered except for the seat, which was removed from most to make them easier to connect. After Bush and Lee made a 3D model in Rhino with the help of a structural engineer, they launched right into building the full-scale version onsite. Read More
A 100 percent PET plastic garden grows in London
If you were fortunate enough to visit the London Olympics this summer and happened to walk through Victoria Park or the main quad at University College London (UCL) on your way to the games, then you experienced BLOOM, a big, bright, architectural garden created by complete strangers who gathered over the course of the two weeks to piece together 60,000 plastic game pieces, all dyed official Olympic hot pink. Designed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez, two architecture professors from UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture, BLOOM was selected by the Greater London Authority for a series of events and installations mounted in two locations during the games with a third location in Trafalgar Square to follow for the upcoming Paralympics.
Andrasek and Sanchez had been developing the idea for an open-ended, crowdsourced game that would encourage interaction between people in a large public space when the opportunity to be involved with the Olympics arose. The timing was perfect. Here was a moment in the city’s history when locals and tourists alike would be in the same location to celebrate athletics, and Andrasek and Sanchez hoped to capitalize on that spirit of camaraderie. The game starts with the pink game pieces, called cells. Each 16 inch-long cell is made of 100% PET plastic and has three points of entry, or notches used to connect the pieces together. Once Andrasek and Sanchez created a design for the cells, they were injection molded at Atomplast, a Chilean plastics fabricator that Andrasek and Sanchez had worked with previously. The cells are flexible, durable and can be bent and twisted into different configurations without warping or breaking. There were also several structural steel components on hand for using with the cells to build benches, tables, forts and other larger formations. Read More
On any typical day, the pedestrianized Rua Luís de Camões in the small Portuguese town of Águeda is a charming place to experience the city, but this July, a cultural festival called AgitÁgueda (Stir Agueda) rolled out the green carpet, suspended hundreds of colorful umbrellas overhead, and invited residents to see the city in a whole new light.
In the middle of a lightly populated island in the middle of a French reservoir—the Ile de Vassivière—an eerie green glow rises from the crest of a hill at dusk, indicating that you’ve found OTRO, a phosphorescent skate park of sinuous bowls and tunnels. Designed by artist Koo Jeong-A, L’Escaut Architectures, and skateboard consultants Brusk and Barricade, the project is described as “skateable artwork” and located near a large chateau housing the International Center of Art and Landscape, a light house designed by Aldo Rossi, and a humanoid piece of land art only visible from high above.
“What if mobile, self-sufficient living units were the building blocks for future cities?” asked New York artist Mary Mattingly. She explored this question in her Flock House Project, experimenting with migratory living solutions through fantastical inhabitable installation art. The project is going on throughout the city this summer.
Mattingly’s series of four “Houses” have been traveling around the five boroughs since June. Individually titled the Microsphere, Terrapod, Chromasphere, and Cacoon, they are now on display at the Bronx Museum, Snug Harbor, the Maiden Lane Exhibition Space, and Omi Sculpture Park in Ghent, NY.