URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA

URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA

URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - Image 2 of 15URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - Image 3 of 15URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - Image 4 of 15URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - GardenURCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - More Images+ 10

  • Architects: CODA
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area:  1260 ft²
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year:  2016
  • Photographs
    Photographs:Joe Wilensky, John Lai
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
    Manufacturers:  Adams Manufacturing
  • Collaborators: Derek Yi, Haoran (Henry) Wang, Ye Chen (Daniel) Park, Aurelie Frolet, Mark Leskovec, Maggie Zou, Linjun Yu, Alex Terry, Jamie Mitchell, George DiStefano, Jacob Cohen, Isabel Branas, Kun Bi, Juan Carlos Artolozaga. With thanks to Basak Akman, Brad Nathanson, Travis Nissen, Sophie Nichols, Gary Esposito, Lingzhe Lu, Jose Ibarra, Ellie Krause, Alexandre Mecattaf, Xiaoxue (Iris) Ma, Sarah Bujnowski, Mwanzaa Brown, Kun Chen, Alireza Shojakhani, Mark Yu-Chen Lien, Stephen Clond, Emma Boudreau, Zahid Alibhai, Ramses Gonzalez, Zelmira Rizo-Patron, Max Piersol, Leroy Patterson, Yue (Lancer) Gu, Chris Morse, Caroline O’Donnell, Lauren Lochry, John Lai
  • Special Thanks To: Martin Fields Miller, The Home Depot.
  • City: Ithaca
  • Country: United States
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URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - Garden
© John Lai

Text description provided by the architects. Built from 500 borrowed plastic chairs, Urchin aims to question the role of the everyday object: from the typical use that ‘affords’ sitting to an aggregation that becomes skin-like: the object’s features are no longer understood in terms of their use (legs, arms, seat) but in terms of their form (spikes, curves, voids) as, due to their rotation away from the ground, they lose their relationship with the human body.

Dipping down in response to the statue of AD White, the pavilion allows the seated figure of one of Cornell University's founders to enter into the (impossible) circus.

URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - Image 4 of 15
© John Lai

No chairs were harmed in the production of Urchin, and they will be returned to circulation afterwards. Urchin plays with the question of usefulness and uselessness by the manipulation of the simple chair, and consequently our perception of the chair and the connection between our bodies, the chair’s components and their orientations. The question of use as a primary perceptual phenomenon is a product of James J. Gibson’s Theory of Affordances in his Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. The project aims to provoke the questioning of usefulness and perception from the scale of the individual chair unit to the scale of the pavilion.


From the scale of the city to the detail, CODA designs unique, site-responsive, and sustainable solutions that balance function and desire. ​ Our award-winning work is known for its use of an innovative material palette, as well as for our commitment to a dynamic interaction between the architecture and its inhabitants over time.​

URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - Image 2 of 15
© John Lai

Since 2008, CODA has designed clever solutions for a range of programs, from art installations to houses, from religious and public buildings to housing, and from furniture to entire city design. Despite this range, all of the projects have a specific approach in common: a serious investigation of the programmatic needs of the user at the same time as an expanded analysis of what the site has to offer, including materials, energy, artisanal techniques, etc. This approach leads to solutions that are at once novel and sustainable. Our designs are often not one thing, but exist in different states in response to different seasons or programs.


 CODA has in-house expertise in both urban design, master planning, building design, and product design. CODA also collaborates with a variety of artists, fabricators, landscape designers, and engineers.

URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA - Image 3 of 15
Courtesy of CODA

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Project location

Address:Ithaca, NY, USA, United States

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "URCHIN Impossible Circus / CODA" 07 Oct 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/796569/urchin-impossible-circus-coda> ISSN 0719-8884

© Joe Wilensky

URCHIN 不可能的马戏团 / CODA

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