Socrates Sculpture Park and the Architectural League have selected Jason Austin and Aleksandr Mergold as the winners of their Folly 2014 competition. Commenced in earlier this year and launched in 2012, the contest’s name and theme derive from the 18th and 19th century Romantic practice of architectural follies, or structures with little discernible function that are typically sited within a garden or landscape. Austin and Mergold’s SuralArk was deemed the most deserving contemporary interpretation of the tradition, and will be erected within the park’s Long Island City confines by early May.
The winning submission takes equal parts inspiration from an upturned ship hull and a suburban home to arrive at its final form. Measuring 50 feet long and 16 feet tall, the design and its context are meant to speak to the increasingly ambiguous distinctions between city, suburban environments, and rural living. In a nod to its greater surroundings, the structure will be coated in the same vinyl sidings frequently found coating the walls of Queens residences. Such paneling will allow light to filter through the building’s exterior, an effect that becomes more dramatic with night fall. The resonance of the ark form grows when one considers the East River’s uninvited entry to and eventual submergence of the Park during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.
A jury of Chris Doyle, Artist; John Hatfield, Socrates Sculpture Park; Enrique Norten, TEN Arquitectos; Lisa Switkin, James Corner Field Operations; and Ada Tolla, LOT-EK judged 171 entries from 17 countries before choosing the Austin and Mergold design. The pair currently work at a Philadelphia-based architecture and landscape firm that bears their name. They will be granted unfettered access to the Sculpture Park’s studios and facilities throughout April in order to oversee the execution of SuralArk which should be open to the public on May 11th and remain on the grounds through August 3rd.