Last friday we presented you the results of P.S.1 summer installation competition, held by the MoMA and the P.S.1. As the idea of the competition is to identify and showcase young practices, here at ArchDaily we’d like to introduce you not only the winner as we did last Friday with SO-IL’s Pole Dance, but also the other contestants, as their proposals are good examples of what young architects are thinking these days. So in the following articles we are going to feature the entries by Freecell, William O’Brien Jr, Easton + Combs and BIG.
We start with Freecell, a design and fabrication practice based in Brooklyn, NY, directed by partners Lauren Crahan and John Hartmann. The firm specializes on small scale commissions, as you can see on the many projects featured at their website.
Their proposal “Cumulus” explores pneumatic structures, which respond to the weather changing its configuration between sunny and cloudy days:
Cumulus - to be in and between, below and on, puffy formations of water vapor is as impossible as it is desirable
This experience is the intention behind, Cumulus, a pneumatic installation of bulging volumes which squeeze and release spaces, allowing the adventurous to transform their sense of elevation and gravity.
Using resources wisely, the pneumatic structures achieve their mass with air, powered by solar energy. In bright sunlight, the clouds would be fully inflated creating a firm bulbous volume and much desired shade. As the temperature rises the clouds become heavy, letting loose a light rain through a system of sprayers.
With the loss of sunlight, and the presence of clouds, the volumes would have less air pressure and loose their rigidity. The shade canopy alters to become thin sheets hanging and draped within their tensile structure, suspended above.
As the sun sets and the evening arrives, the volumes become flaccid with air and light emitting diodes which illuminate the volumes from within.
In the main courtyard, the cloud formations crowd and loom to create a variety of places. Entering from the street, one is met with the first small volume. This is volume, occupiable on the inside at night, obscures the spaces beyond, but allows views over which provides an uphill view of the topside. Moving around this volume one begins to descend down the landscape underfoot and underneath the landscape overhead. Two large volumes cover the courtyard, one low lying within a cut, and one atop a filled mound. In the smaller court the volumes lay low creating clouds to rest and recline on.
The space of human occupation is pressed and released between the cloud membranes and the topography of the site allowing separate, but connected experiences. This experience would be further intensified by the condition of variable pneumatic pressure caused by changing weather patterns. Temporal changes of weather allow the space to become potent with unexpected change, registering unpredictability.
The two volumes that touch the ground, one at entry from street and one at entry from dance floor, are occupiable at night. Extending the physical participation beyond the dance floor, we were interested providing a dialog of the internal occupant’s pressure of touch with the space outside the volume. Is it met with another hand or body or wall? This membrane enclosure becomes a vehicle for discovery, through the scalar medium of shadow and the blind searching touch.
The shaping of the ground, both the ground itself and the changing canopy above, transforms ones sense of altitude and horizon, accentuating the experience of being atop a mountain within a plane of clouds.