Leave it to a pair of Brazilian architects to use reinforced concrete to reinvent small-scale urbanism. While North American designers turn to plywood and recycled palettes to create curbside seating, architects Fernando Falcón and Rodrigo Cerviño of the São Paulo–based practice TACOA Arquitetos shopped for rebar. Entitled Jardineira, Falcón and Cerviño’s installation is a cantilevered concrete planter and bench located on the busy Insurgentes Avenue in Mexico City. The work sits outside the architecture gallery LIGA, Space for Architecture on one of the city’s major thoroughfares. Founded in 2011, the gallery focuses on primarily on Latin American practices and Jardineira is the first time that an exhibition has left the 172-square-foot venue and directly addressed the street condition. The concrete installation mimics the existing street furniture, but with one exception: it tilts, seemingly dislodging itself from the sidewalk. “I knew it would be good when they wanted to bring in a structural engineer,” said architect Wonne Ickx, co-founder of LIGA and the architecture firm Productora. An emerging firm, TACOA believes that any work of architecture should serve as a pretext for interacting directly with the city. As their installation illustrates, they do this without abandoning disciplinary rigor or a formal language. The pair ground their work in the teachings of the Paulista School, the mid-century group of Brazilian architects that included Pritzker Prize–winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha and João Batista Vilanova Artigas. Designs from both architects are included in the current MoMA exhibition Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955–1980. While most would associate Brazilian architecture with the swoops of Oscar Niemeyer, the Paulista School embraced the grittier side of architecture with chunky, exposed concrete buildings. Similarly, Falcón and Cerviño find inspiration in the frictions and imperfections of urban life. Jardineira is on view at LIGA through August.
Posts tagged with "Benches":
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Aerodynamics of transit inform the design for new public seating in busy pedestrian areas like train platforms.Landscape architect Thomas Balsley has been shaping public spaces in urban settings for more than 35 years, from the Bronx to Dallas to Portland. Even at large scales his work underscores attention to detail, all the way down to the furniture that adorns his sites. As a resident of New York since the 1970s, Balsley is all too aware of the way public benches and seating function in densely populated cities. For Transit Bench—fabricated by Landscape Forms custom project team at Studio 431—he designed a seating option for busy pedestrian areas, like train platforms and street-side parklets, where movement engulfs stationary seating. “I started thinking of the aerodynamic aspects of transit and airline design, where the skin of the plane is an important structural component,” Balsley told AN. “I had the idea that this folded piece of skin could be the structure.” The bench, which rests on two sled base legs, is one solid form, made from a single sheet of stainless steel with laser cut perforations that suggest motion. Based off his design for the Redline Bench (one of many products Balsley has designed for Landscape Forms), Transit Bench hones in on efficiency of form and material, something he hopes will become hallmarks of 21st century design. Wrestling to rectify an ongoing inconsistency in bench design—“Why isn’t the back as attractive as the front?” pondered Balsley—Transit Bench’s back extends 1/3 of the way down for a more balanced aesthetic. A skirt folds down to conceal the legs at the front of the bench. On the backless version of the design, the skirt wraps down over the backside as well. Rob Smalldon of Studio 431 took the Rhino design files supplied by Balsley and worked on them in SketchUp and SolidWorks. A sheet of stainless steel was laser cut in flat form, and sent to a press break to achieve its three defining bends. For simplicity and consistency, the same dye was used for all three bends. The legs are also made from one band of steel, as are the arms, which are bent to their preferred shape. “I believe some of the best designs are pretty simple,” said Smalldon, “but there’s usually twice as much effort to make it work.” The legs are bolted to the seat panel to avoid heat deformations and ensure safety and stability. “With the bolted connection, you see rounded bolt heads but no warpage,” explained Smalldon. “It looks and performs better.” In all, the bench is made from four pieces. Transit Bench was designed in New York and fabricated in Michigan. Balsley was pleased with the outcome. “If it was a fabricator I wasn’t familiar with, I would have been there. But Landscape Forms is a top shelf company,” he said. “Our other stainless pieces with them have been extraordinary.”
Whether it be Times Square’s "meeting bowls" or Chelsea’s metal shutter benches, New York City has developed a tradition of engaging in innovative approaches to integrate various types of seating amenities. The latest piece of street furniture in the works is the ALIS bench, designed by Edward Kim, Tommaso Casucci, Charles Jones, and Mike Nesbit, which may soon augment the landscape of Battery Park, an area that commonly serves as a site for experimentation in the design of communal enclaves. Sturdy and lightweight, the bench is fabricated through a process of plastic injection molding. This eco-friendly product is inspired by the designers’ keen interest in renewable resources. The plastics chosen for fabrication are made from renewable or reproducible sources such as plant-based products and have been increasingly used in the production of plastic materials over the past century, particularly those found in playground equipment. The end result is an environmentally friendly product that also provides optimum comfort to its users. The designers describe ALIS as a “temporal instrument” deeply embedded in the landscape. Its “fiber logic” substructure distributes external forces through its skin system and lights up the bench’s intricate web of fibers at night. The bench’s curves adapt to the shape and configuration of the human body. The intertwinement of fiber bundles in the bench efficiently responds to areas of higher impact stress and creates a rigid and thick material surface resulting in a more durable structure.
Connecting two existing waterfronts—Battery Park and East River Park—the rehabilitation of the East River Esplanade has been a catalyst of renewal along Manhattan's East River. The latest phase of the plan—by SHoP Architects and Ken Smith Workshop—extends the current three-block-long Esplanade north, adding recreational amenities and addresses the challenges of building a new landscape beneath an elevated highway between Catherine Slip and Pike Slip in Lower Manhattan.. The so-called "Package 4" aims to create a "front porch" for the Lower East Side by introducing new street furniture such as conversation benches, bar stools, lounge chairs, picnic tables, and swing sets hanging from the FDR highway overpass. The new plan also includes the prospective installation of amenities such as elevated exercise platforms, a skate park, games tables, a synthetic turf field, waterfront fishing docks, and multiple bike paths. The project’s designers wish to integrate a significant amount of perspective and dimension on the site by conserving already-existing open lawns, installing light fixtures under the FDR highway overpass, building multi-leveled seating and benches, and planting a diversity of foliage. Pending approval from the New York City Council and City Planning, the project should be complete by Spring 2015.
Even though Hurricane Irene blew through on August 27th without flooding the subways, which were rendered prophylactically still and silent for a day, a pesky summer storm in 2007 dumped so much water onto the M and R lines that they were forced out of service. Governor Spitzer took immediate action to mitigate the problem, and boldly mobilized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Department of Transportation to do something about it. Solving a range of engineering problems while at the same time providing a streetscape element with some wit and whimsy, Rogers Marvel Architects created banks of raised stainless steel grates that rise up into an undulating wave of slats and hammered speckled side walls. There are three typical grates designed for specific water overflow depths. They can be combined in a left- or right-hand fashion to create the continuous surface over the structural grates below. In case you were wondering, they won’t stop a truck, but happily no Louboutin heels snapped off here! The AIANY Design Awards jury liked it too, giving the project an Honor Award, citing: “This is a really utilitarian solution infused with public art and design innovation.” For the info on the tour of tomorrow’s Building of the Day click here: Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.