Architecture studio Austin+Mergold has teamed up with artist Maria Park and students from Cornell University to produce Oculi, this year’s City of Dreams Pavilion on Governors Island in New York City. The design was the winner of the annual City of Dreams competition aimed at promoting sustainability in architecture and design. It’s on view now through October 31.
The installation features a field of elevated oculi made from 40-year-old metal grain bins procured from a farm in Delphos, Ohio. The oculi frame unobstructed views of the sky while tracking the path of the sun with a range of shadow patterns. The interior walls of the bins are painted in shades of blue that correspond to the changing colors of the sky throughout the day.
“Artifacts of the American agro-industrial age, these bins have been repurposed in ways not unlike how medieval inhabitants of Rome reoccupied the remains of the Ancient Empire,” explained the studio in a statement. They compare the grain bin with “spolia,” a term for ancient stone that has been repurposed in new construction.
The City of Dreams Pavilion is now a gathering place for visitors to enjoy performances and lectures. Following the de-installation, the bins will be reused as materials for an experimental housing cluster in Central New York.
The competition was organized by FIGMENT, the Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY). For Oculi, the architects and artist collaborated with consulting engineers Chris Earls and Scott Hughes.