The winning proposal for this year’s Folly installation at New York City’s Socrates Sculpture Park rethinks social interaction in public spaces with a sculptural installation resembling cross-sections of basketballs protruding from a horizontal plane. Torquing Spheres comprises sculpted, intertwined forms whose voluminous curves represent new feats in material techniques: bending plywood in a way that has been common in bending plastic panels.
“By cutting out a fold line as well as a hole in the center of the panel, the material edges can be overlapped and mechanically fixed in place by simple bolts,” the architects explained in their proposal. Best viewed from above for its juxtaposition of straight lines with complex spheres, the design riffs off the traditional geometry of domes, squinches, and pendentives to make standalone units. “The result is a doubly curving membrane but made by a simple construction technique that creates a monocoque shell that is self-supporting without a structural frame.”
Each half sphere is a pod resembling a futuristic, design-conscious take on the humdrum and far-from-plush park bench. The proposal is the brainchild of architects Mariana Ibañez and Simon Kim of IK Studio, a Cambridge and Philadelphia-based design and research practice that dabbles in material performance, adaptable tectonics, spatial interaction, and robotics within architecture and urbanism.
Torquing Spheres won first place out of 126 submissions from around the world in the annual Folly program, a juried competition held in recognition of exceptional early-career architects and designers. The innovative proposal was selected by a five-person jury of big-name architects and artists, including David Benjamin (The Living), Leslie Gill (Architect), Sheila Kennedy (Kennedy & Violich Architecture), Alyson Shotz (Artist), and Socrates Sculpture Park Executive Director John Hatfield.