After winning the 2016 Socrates Sculpture Park Folly Competition, New York–based studio Hou de Sousa has seen their structure, Sticks, realized at the park in Long Island City, Queens. The opening of the space coincides with the park’s 30th anniversary.
Hou de Sousa—comprised of Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa—designed a folly that uses simple timber trusses to form a sloping roof and cut-away entrance. This year, the competition brief referenced the literal meaning of folly: A blend of architecture and sculpture that doesn’t really serve a useful purpose. When Hou de Sousa was announced as winners, The Architect’s Newspaper noted that these structures were once popular in 18th century England and French patrician gardens.
Speaking to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN), Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa said that the structure should stay standing until December 30 of this year, though its primary use is for the warmer seasons. The structure is capable of holding various items of scrap materials, something Hou de Sousa hopes will allow the space come to life. “The original design intention was that this can be a structure than can change over time,” de Sousa explained, adding that the “scraps” could be used as a form of shading device, diffusing natural light. “After building the primary structure we let it out of our hands,” said de Sousa, though he and Hou confessed to being “tempted” to add their own materials.
A relatively simple build, the duo said the structure was erected swiftly, though readying the site took “longer than expected.” At 18-inches thick, the timber frame uses shelving to accommodate the scraps, most of which will be from the work of former artists-in-residence. When they won the competition in April, Hou de Sousa’s mentioned the possibility of photovoltaic panels being deployed onto the roof of the structure. Today, however, de Sousa told AN that this would be “unlikely.”
Socrates Sculpture Park hopes Sticks becomes “a hub for Socrates Sculpture Park’s Education Studio, which hosts over 10,000 students annually.”