P.S.1 2010 entry: Weathers Permitting by William O’Brien Jr

As I told you on our previous post, the summer installation competition held by the MoMA and the is a platform for young architects, and that’s why we are presenting you all the entries for this year. You can read our whole competition coverage here.

We continue with William O’Brien Jr, who has been very related to the academy and is currently a professor at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and he also runs his own practice in Cambridge, MA.

© William O'Brien Jr

His proposal for the summer installation, Weathers Permitting, constructs an elevated boardwalk with a topology which collects water, which varies or evaporates depending on the current weather at the location. The action of the weather over the boardwalk reminds me of the weathering effect described by Mohsen Mostafavi on his book On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time.

More about William’s proposal after the break:

© William O'Brien Jr

Weathers Permitting: A Field Guide to Transitional Environments

Weathers Permitting — a proposal for the 2010 MoMA/ P.S.1 Young Architects Program — aspires to broaden affiliations between natural processes and cultural practices. It seeks to sponsor a renewed curiosity in spatial, temporal, and conditional patterns of environmental transition to which we may have grown accustomed.

© William O'Brien Jr
© William O'Brien Jr

The installation is conceptualized as a terrain — a continuous and varied landscape — which resists rigid typological classification. Rather, through formal and compositional metamorphosis, the terrain enfolds a spectrum of diverse, yet correlated landscape characteristics. It is designed as an elevated boardwalk with unconventional properties including malleability and water retention.

© William O'Brien Jr
© William O'Brien Jr
© William O'Brien Jr

Conceived as a flexible construct, the design makes use of the common-directionality and inherent material-flexibility of parallel planks of wood in order to guide the locations of folds in its surface. Transitions between two-dimensional surface and three-dimensional volume offer multiple littoral zones which mimic the variety of aquatic conditions typically associated with coastlines. Participating in the repetitive cycles of time and the indeterminate patterns of weather, depressions in the terrain collect and evaporate water intermittently, registering the oscillation of environmental conditions.

© William O'Brien Jr

Exploration of an ambiguous field often benefits from a guide. Here we provide you with “A Field Guide to Transitional Environments” to help in identification and characterization of elements, occurrences, and conditions you may encounter while in the field.

© William O'Brien Jr
© William O'Brien Jr

Design Principal: William O’Brien Jr.

Project Team:
Cecilia Ho
Sunnie Lau
George X. Lin
Alex Marshall
Travis Williams

Visualization: Neoscape, Inc.

Music: Dave Eggar

Component Models: George Brin, Brin Studio

Cite: Basulto, David. "P.S.1 2010 entry: Weathers Permitting by William O’Brien Jr" 26 Jan 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=47708>

7 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    just by watching the video looks like it is missing some iteraction with people, it is too boring. also almost the entire video is shown from a brid view, that’s exactly what people wont be able to see.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This submission offers a stronger/well thought design theme vs. the novelty of the winning work and the other entries. It is a progressive move to present a project built off the ground. The project succeeds in creating a new terrain not only for public use, but aesthetic enjoyment, in the same way a hiker might stop and enjoy the view of a grand vista. Well done.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Really cool concept. The built environment captures that which is essential and basic in natural beauty and utility.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Elegant and visually stunning. Have I been in this business too long? Does it seen to anyone else that this competition has been taken over by corporate sponsors? Last year’s winner was a Sesame Street wannabe Snufflupagus and this year’s winner appears to be a McDonald’s play area…

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