Traces + Patterns at the Olympic Sculpture Park / PIQUE

PIQUE often engages in the practice of Guerrilla Architecture. In an effort to exercise their design process, critical eye and interest in the urban fabric, they undertake subversive interrogations & interventions. This latest research project for the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park is one such project that is beginning to get some real traction.

More images, a video and the architect’s description after the break.

The Olympic Sculpture Park frames their study as this park provides an invaluable amenity to the city by generously offering this private collection of art, open and free to the public. It is the first in the city to clearly and actively engage a connection from urban to natural landscapes. Its design connects the joy of discovering landscape with the joy of discovering art.

The first phase of study consisted of observing, documenting and graphically assimilating how people move through and spend time in this place. The results of the interrogation revealed “hotspots” on the master plan where people congregate and spend greater amounts of time. Not surprisingly, the majority of these spots are in front of art, but a considerable amount of time is spent in open areas along the switchback of the “Z” circulation path above Elliot Avenue and in front of Calder’s Eagle. This study highlighted the existence of the orange chairs along this stretch of path, which seemed to be added as an afterthought.

Based on the effect these chairs have on how visitors use the space of the park, PIQUE considers these chairs as active ‘agents’, which can be used to various affect. These chairs create orientation and provide a tangible, tactile experience that is human-scale and able to be manipulated. As the research continued, a project for a public art insertion naturally unfolded.

The diagrams which resulted from the research became rhetorically dense, rich and graphically beautiful pieces of art; the richness and graphical beauty derived from a rigorous analysis of the visitors’ use of the park. By layering the paths of each person in the park, the visitors were unknowingly contributing to a piece of artwork that covered the entire sculpture park. The resulting project engages two key issues: 1. How can the park itself act as a piece of public art? 2. How can the significance of these chairs, revealed through the time-lapse studies, be turned into an event on the site?

The resulting insertion puts in place a system that sparks circumstance and engagement. A racking system is proposed for specially designed chairs so that, as a visitor pulls a chair, they then need to make a decision where to put it on the site. Throughout the day these chairs move about, creating an active, evolving dance. The chairs are designed to fit together in different configurations sparking a playful, engaging sense and assuring that each visit will be unique.

A video camera situated on the adjacent building documents the patterns of use on the lawn as it unfolds throughout the day and sends a feed to the Seattle Art Museum website and downtown lobby. Here, visitors can see how they contributed to that day’s artwork of use. At the end of the day, the night watchman returns the remaining chairs into the storage rack, clearing the canvas for the next day’s artwork.

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Cite: Sebastian Jordana. "Traces + Patterns at the Olympic Sculpture Park / PIQUE" 22 Feb 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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