Posts tagged with "Temporary Architecture":

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What’s the state of inflatable architecture?

There’s been something of a renaissance lately in inflatable architecture. In the past few years alone, this ephemeral typology has been at Collective Design Fair, Performa 17, and the Park Avenue Armory. Inflatables emerged in the 1960s as a means of expressing dissatisfaction with established cultural norms about life, work, and society. They were seen as potentially revolutionary structures that allowed for experimentation with space in order to influence social, psychological, and physical cognition through the built environment. Inflatables were originally invented by the U.S. military with Cornell aeronautical lab engineer Walter Bird to deploy radio antennae in 1948. Bird, often referred to as the father of the field, is credited for taking this military technology and popularizing it in 1959 by collaborating with Paul Weidlinger on an inflatable roof for the Boston Arts Center Theater. In the ’60s and ’70s, when techno-optimism about the future reached its peak, Buckminster Fuller proposed a massive dome over Manhattan, while Frei Otto envisioned one to shelter 40,000 people in the Arctic Circle. What came next in "inflatotecture" was symptomatic of the counterculture era, which viewed it as a way to construct space for dissent and experimentation while taking advantage of lighter, stronger construction methods and new audiovisual technologies. Ant Farm, a San Francisco–based architecture studio, designed inexpensive and disposable structures out of vinyl for counterculture “happenings,” and anyone attending them could buy the group’s Inflatocookbook, a comic detailing step-by-step how to make one’s own enclosure (a practice common among collectives to disseminate information and design about inflatables). Other contemporaries included the U.K.'s Archigram, Italy's Archizoom, and Germany-based Haus-Rucker-Co.—all of whom envisioned inflatable architecture as a way to explore theories about spatial production, social organization, and consumption. Experimental inflatable architecture continues to be a form that designers use to examine contemporary social problems and to radically play with form and space for its own sake. The following projects stretch the medium to its limits, showing how the next generation of inflatables can generate new experiences. Jesse Seegers Looking to practice new forms of architecture outside of the traditionally accepted profession, New York-based designer Jesse Seegers employs the term “spatial practice,” a framework to create structures that draw from architectural knowledge but are equally related to other disciplines. For example, the Potlatch Pavilion was an ethereal inflatable for a gift exchange party, referencing the Pacific Northwest indigenous American tradition where one’s status is derived from how much you can give away, rather than how much wealth you possess. Here, the inflatable was deployed to “construct alternative systems of political economy.” Seegers’s recent projects include a temporary yoga space called Yoga Dome, which premiered at the opening of Sky Ting Yoga; an installation at a Pioneer Works exhibition on Ant Farm; a concert backdrop for musician SOPHIE’s live tour; and an inflatable landscape for musician Oneohtrix Point Never’s M.Y.R.I.A.D. concert at New York’s Park Avenue Armory. In 2017, Seegers helped French, Los Angeles–based architect François Perrin bring Reyner Banham and François Dallegret’s 1965 conceptual drawing The Environment Bubble to life as a site-specific installation for dance workshops in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Central Park as part of Performa 17. Alex Schweder “An inflatable space in process speaks to the bodies we have. It’s a fleshier, time-based architecture,” said Alex Schweder. The self-proclaimed performance architect began working with inflatables in 2005 at the American Academy in Rome, where his first blow-up installation, Sick Building Sequence, encapsulated feathers floating inside of a translucent plastic “room.” Since then, his inflatables have traversed Collective Design Fair, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Venice Architecture Biennale, Tate Britain, and Performa 17. These include a “room” with photosensitive fur, an inflatable hotel inside of a cherry picker, a floor-to-ceiling mass that collapses and expands into and away from itself, and a spiderlike robot that inflates and deflates to reconfigure space on a dance floor. What’s next? Schweder is working with a team of international artists on a traveling show that responds to László Moholy-Nagy’s Mechanized Eccentric, which will debut at the Bauhaus 100th anniversary next year. Seattle Design Nerds Formed in 2014 as a volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to designing for the public realm, the group is officially the Seattle-based chapter of the international Design Nerds Society. Known for their inflatables, Seattle Design Nerds is a multidisciplinary collab started by Jeremy Reeding and Trevor Dykstra. The pair works with other local architects, designers, and artists on public interest projects to “make Seattle a little more awesome.” True to their mission, Reeding and Dykstra’s first inflatable was a large-scale installation for the 2014 Seattle Design Festival Block Party, a pop-up space shaped like a giant monster and filled with random objects for play. The team veered into the conceptual realm with The Gas Trap, a performance work where a car's tailpipe seemingly fills the inflatable to illustrate our dependence on gasoline. Last year they dreamed up an installation at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park composed of eight cuddly, inflatable orbs that change color when bopped. For the 2017 Seattle Design Festival Block Party, the group envisioned an illuminated inflatable mural crafted by visitors at the event with Velcro pixels. Their latest work for Cooper Hewitt’s Design with the Other 90% features a giant egg-shaped inflatable that will debut at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center in Seattle in mid-September. Nicolas KK A young Nicolas KK grew up in Brazil in a family of hot air ballooners. From these beginnings, he developed an innate understanding and appreciation of the form. Putting his “family stuff” to good use, he started making his own blow-ups while studying industrial design at the Maryland Institute College of Art. That trajectory has continued through collaboration with digital, audio, and light artists in a shared studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, called Future Space. Inspired by the inflatables of the 1960s and ’70s, Nicolas KK produces experimental structures by applying his expertise in computational design. His digitally driven experimental performance pieces create “dynamic” qualities and always include a programmable element that directly responds to existing digital infrastructures or naturally occurring biomimetic systems. Nicolas KK plans to study Integrative technologies and architectural design research at the University of Stuttgart in Germany, where he will continue to work with inflatables and collaborate with other artists on projects that respond to the emerging computational environment. In December, New York's New Museum will debut his work in an online exhibition described as “the original live desktop theater internet television show.” Pneuhaus Matt Muller, Augie Lehrecke, and Levi Bedall spearhead the Rhode Island-based design collective Pneuhaus dedicated to the mastery of all things inflatable, specifically spatial designs, temporary structures, contemporary art, and large-scale installations. It all started at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2014 when Muller and Lehrecke designed a handful of different inflatables inspired by Art Farm’s Inflatocookbook. The university hired them to continue to explore those ideas and design a space for the school’s annual design conference. Soon after, Beddall joined Muller and Lehrecke when they got their first professional commision to design-build and perform a circus for the RISD Museum. Since then, the trio has imagined transient spaces for Spotify, Burning Man, and Brown University. Ranging from inflatable fabric prisms built around the fundamental properties of light to inflatables outfitted with pinhole cameras, their growing list of projects develop as iterations of previous works. Their most recent project, Compound Camera no. 2, is a new iteration of the pinhole camera inflatable dome as a giant tunnel at the LUMA Projection Arts Festival in Binghamton, New York.
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A design competition brings kaleidoscopic sukkahs to downtown Detroit

After an international design contest that drew 78 entries from 14 countries, five winning sukkahs (temporary huts built for the weeklong Jewish holiday Sukkot) have landed in Detroit’s Capitol Park. The competition was part of Sukkah x Detroit, a celebration of Jewish culture, Detroit’s status as a UNESCO City of Design, and the city’s large number of urban farms; the chosen sukkahs make reference to all three. Sukkah x Detroit was an initiative of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue as part of Detroit’s Month of Design, and all five winning designs will be on display until the festival’s end on September 30. Sukkahs are meant to be flexible and at least partially exposed to the elements, and observant Jews are expected to eat and sleep in the temporary structures during the seven days of Sukkot. All of the winning structures put a playful spin on the typical sukkah typology but were certified by two rabbis to ensure they met biblical requirements and were fully usable. Abre Etteh of New Malden, U.K., sought to evoke the light that filters through a swaying treetop canopy with his entry, Hallel. Painted blue plywood was used to form the structure of Hallel, while 500 freshly-milled cherry shingles were hung from the ceiling. The shingles all move with the breeze, and dappled light is reflected in a brass-covered bowl of water in the center of the floor. Gamma Architects from Gibraltar focused on sharing in both the physical and spiritual sense with their Shuk-kah. This sukkah was built from recycled white vegetable crates, ubiquitous sights at food markets around the world, which were used for the structure’s walls, furniture, and central table. A “roof” of bamboo scaffolding was installed overhead that would allow visitors to see the stars, and LEDs were run through the crates making up the walls, enabling the hut to softly glow at night. Noah Ives, of Portland, Oregon, reinterpreted the sukkah as an art object with his biomorphic Seedling Sukkah, which resembles a pinecone or hive at first glance. Laser-cut plywood “leaves” were used to tile the outside of Seedling Sukkah, creating a lightweight, open pavilion that references nature in both material and form. JE-LE, the only Detroit-based winner, took cues from the vibrancy and sculptural qualities of fruit for Pocket Space, by referencing the packed fruit ornamentations traditionally hung inside of sukkahs. Sukkahs are by nature designed to be intimate spaces, but JE-LE expanded the uses of Pocket Space through a series of rotating interior nets that can be adjusted based on use. Finally, the Cambridge-based Nice One Projects embraced the inherently paradoxical nature of the sukkah (a structure that by definition must remain exposed and open to nature) with Chaffy. Nice One took the premise to its logical extreme, attempting to “dissolve” all sense of hard walls by creating a continuous wall clad in thousands of thatch bundles. Inside, guests will find a respite from the outside world, allowing them to see out while remaining obscured. Sukkah x Detroit was modeled after New York’s 2010 Sukkah City, a competition that brought 12 high-design sukkahs to Union Square and spawned both a book and a documentary on the exhibition. Unable to make it to Detroit by September 30? The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and JCC Harlem are presenting five sukkahs designed by artists from now until October 8, including a scaled down version of Israeli architect Avner Sher's Jerusalem 950m2 (Quarter Acre) Alternate Topographies. All 78 Sukkah x Detroit entries can be seen online here.
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Glassblowing barge brings the traditional craft to New York’s waterways

Corning is going back to its roots for the 150th anniversary of the company’s move to Corning, New York. The Corning Museum of Glass has tapped the McLaren Engineering Group’s nautical and entertainment departments for the creation of GlassBarge, a mobile glassworking studio set to travel from Brooklyn to the upstate city. McLaren repurposed an existing 30-by-80-foot barge to create room for both glassblowing performances and space for 150 spectators. The entire barge was also topped with a 30-by-69-foot-long retractable canopy to protect against harsh weather. Corning was born the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company until they packed up and moved upstate to Corning in 1868. GlassBarge will retrace the historic company's move across the state’s waterways. The barge launched from Brooklyn Bridge Park in May and will ultimately make 29 stops, hosting public demonstrations and lectures along the way before it arrives at Seneca Lake Pier in Watkins Glen on September 14. After that, the barge will travel to its final home at the Port of Coeymans, just south of Albany, in October. “We used our experience working on Broadway theaters and concert stage performances to create stadium seating that amplified the viewer experience,” said Steven Bonadonna, technical design manager at McLaren, “while collaborating with our marine experts to maximize occupancy on the floating structure.” Floating performance spaces have a storied architectural history, from Louis Kahn's floating orchestra hall Point Counterpoint II, to this year's inflatable Antepavilion competition winner in London. Tickets to the remaining GlassBarge demonstrations can be reserved here.
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A pneumatic “Antepavilion” sets sail in London

A great golden gourd has materialized on Regents Canal in northeast London. For the next eight days, the inflatable creation will touch down at five different venues along the canal from Hackney Wick to Kings Cross, where it will invite local artists into its soft, playful belly to host live concerts, improvised comedy, and spoken word poetry, among other events. “AirDraft” by architects Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers is the winning submission for this year’s Antepavilion: an annual competition co-organized by the Architecture Foundation and Shiva Ltd. to produce a public installation on the Hoxton Docks. Established just last year, the initiative has already made a splash as an experimental counter-weight to the more commercially-minded Serpentine Pavilion. By providing an opportunity for younger artists, architects, and designers to create a temporary structure on a modest budget of $32,000 (£25,000), the Antepavilion is a playful foray into new means of living and working together, with a critical edge. Last year’s winning entry by PUP architects—a rooftop hut disguised as an industrial air duct to subvert planning permission—set a bold precedent for AirDraft, which has nonetheless emerged as a true successor in the Antepavilion’s evolving ambition. For Antepavilion 2018, Randall-Page and Rogers have flown the coop of the Hoxton Docks. Their bulbous creation embraces the sinuous, unregulated vibrancy of the canal as an inflatable performance venue. Working in collaboration with Cameron Balloons, the Bristol-based purveyor of balloons, blimps, and other oxygenized joys, alongside London-based structural engineer AKT II, the pneumatic vessel emits a permanent golden aura that is highly conducive to flattering selfies. “More butternut squash than phallus,” according to Randall-Page, AirDraft takes after the work of artist Jeffrey Shaw and the inflatable architecture aficionados of 1970s, Ant Farm. Seemingly torn out from the pages of Ant Farm’s DIY pneumatic manual, Inflatocookbook, AirDraft emerged from its intense 10-week gestation period with remarkably clear vision, complemented by an impressive attention to detail. The entire structure can be deflated in 12 minutes (re-inflation takes half as long), which makes crossing under the canal’s many bridges a breeze. Meanwhile, ventilation and centrifugal fans keep the butternut buoyant without stealing the spotlight from the performers: “The fans can be turned down during events,” explained Rogers. The sunny squash is a striking visual contrast to its local industrial surrounds, but its warm inflatable enclave also serves a deeper purpose as a temporary events space for London’s vibrant yet precarious canal culture. A short stroll or sail along Regents reveals a plethora of waterborne businesses and houseboats, as well as the countless galleries, studios, and grassroots venues clustering around its banks. But as rent continues to climb, licensing laws tighten, and some fear the London houseboat dream is at risk of drying up, the AirDraft intends to “flag the importance of cultural institutions in danger,” according to Randall-Page. As part of their winning proposal, Randall-Page and Rogers organized an onboard event program that draws upon local (sub)cultural institutions, from theatre venues to nightclubs. Their eclectic list of collaborators includes Total Refreshment Centre, a staple of London’s emergent underground jazz scene that was forced into closure earlier this summer by Hackney Council. “If being able to pop-up and disappear is a way around these regulations, that’s great,” consents Randall-Page. “But we shouldn’t really have to seek out these loopholes in the first place.” With a “boat for a mother and an airship for a father,” according to it design duo, AirDraft is an ebullient, if existentially troubled, intervention into Hackney’s canal culture. The 2018 Antepavilion reflects through its hybrid, flexible, intimate and informal structure all that is precious, unique, and worth saving about north-east London’s canal culture. While not for those prone to seasickness, what it lacks in vertebrae it more than makes up for in vibrancy.
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Universal Design Studio on creating the temporary architecture of Frieze New York

What does it mean to build a museum that lasts for only a week? That’s the challenge faced by the architects and designers who create the structures that house the world’s ever-expanding ecosystem of art fairs—pop-up culture and commerce destinations that bring together hundreds of international galleries and thousands of moneyed collectors from around the globe for little more than a weekend at a time. One of the most prestigious of these shows is Frieze, an offshoot of the London magazine that now boasts fairs in London, New York, and, soon, Los Angeles. And each iteration is no small feat—with more than 40,000 visitors expected over the course of its run, Frieze New York, which is open to the public from May 4 through May 6, attracts more visitors in a weekend than some regional museums do in an entire year. “Normally, you build a building, you open it and that’s it,” says Richard McConkey, associate director at Universal Design Studio—the interiors-minded London architecture firm founded by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. UDS designed this year’s tent on Randall’s Island and has collaborated with Frieze on its flagship London fair since 2014. In their first design for the New York fair, UDS took lessons from four editions of Frieze London to drastically rethink the exhibition space. And while the massive white tent may look familiar from the outside, the feeling inside is completely different—more like walking through a series of galleries than a wide-open convention center—and that’s precisely the point. Unlike permanent architecture, McConkey says, the design process of these temporary structures is endless, as each year’s iteration yields new learning to be applied to the following fair. It also provides the added pressure of having some the world’s most important contemporary art galleries under one roof, meaning the structure needs to function just as well as a permanent building would for the course of its run——”as much as you can in a tent,” jokes McConkey—even though it goes from “green to built” in just five or six weeks.   In the five years that the fair has taken place on New York’s Randall’s Island, the tent that houses the exhibition had expanded to break two Guinness World Records, one for the largest single-unit marquee and the other for the biggest temporary stage in the world. But for this year’s edition of the New York fair, the team at UDS took a more subtle approach to the space with a brief to eschew the continuous, snaking structure of past fairs for something that felt more intimate, despite spanning some 300,000 square feet. They devised the plan by thinking from the inside out, creating a series of connected buildings that flow one into the next, with blue-chip galleries anchoring the crossroads. Within the space, many of the details are left to the galleries, who choose from a menu of options on everything from wall color to lighting to flooring (the most common area where galleries upgrade, where a specific surface might be needed to accommodate things like sculpture). “The fair is just here as an infrastructure for the galleries,” McConkey explains, coyly underplaying the importance of the structure that makes it all possible. “Our job as architects is to get people here, get the flow going, and get out of the way.” But, that means everything needs to work, down to considerations like the orientation of windows and outdoor spaces, to make sure no direct sunlight ever hits the work on display within the light-filled space. In addition to interior concerns, UDS moved the pavilion closer to the river and reoriented the entrances to enhance natural light and connection to the context of the island—all while understanding that come the end of the fair, no trace could be left behind, not even damage to a tree. Further reducing the structure’s impact on the environment is the fact that it is largely comprised of rented modular units, “a kit of parts, like Lego,” McConkey says. In fact, custom components account for less than ten percent of the structure—mainly the large-scale clerestory windows—a move that does more than cut back on budget, it also means the most pieces, down to the walls that separate the galleries, will be put in storage after disassembly and used again for similar structures by UDS and other firms.   And then it’s right back to the drawing board. As for the next Frieze iteration, says McConkey, it “starts as soon as this thing ends.”
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South Korea’s disposable Olympic stadium has no roof or heating

As the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea dazzles with massive drone displays and American triple axels, spectators in the main Olympic stadium have been left out in the cold. The $109 million, pentagonal stadium has 35,000 seats but no roof or heating elements, and will only be used four times before being torn down. The decision to build a low-cost arena designed for planned obsolescence isn’t a crazy idea. With the total cost of the games approaching nearly $13 billion, keeping a 35,000-seat stadium running when PyeongChang County only has 40,000 residents was prohibitively expensive. Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has warned that Olympic venues can be become “white elephants” after the games end, as they historically have within other hosting cities. Although the South Korean government had hoped the Olympics would turn the snowy and mountainous PyeongChang into a winter sports destination for tourists, enthusiasm within the country for winter sports has been particularly muted. Because no viable alternatives were proposed, PyeongChang Olympic Stadium was designed to be disposable and will only host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and the Paralympic Games before being demolished. Cutting costs by leaving out a roof might have worked during the Summer Olympics, but at half a mile above sea level, PyeongChang is one of Korea’s coldest areas, and this year’s lows are breaking records. Polycarbonate walls were installed at the stadium’s top levels to shield spectators from the wind, but guests were given blankets, heating pads, and raincoats to keep warm and gas heaters were installed between the aisles. Seven people were repeatedly treated for frostbite after an hour-long opening event in November, where temperatures hovered around 12 degrees Fahrenheit, though they had risen to the low 20’s by the time of the opening ceremony proper. Disposable, temporary, and even movable stadiums have been in demand lately, as cities around the world grapple with the challenges (and costs) of repurposing single-use venues once an event ends. Qatar recently unveiled their Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, which uses removable shipping containers as building blocks so that the arena can be moved after the World Cup. The 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony will take place on February 25, 2018, while the Winter Paralympics will run from March 8 until March 18.
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Burning Man’s 2018 temple revealed

Burning Man, a summer festival located in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, is something of an architectural bonanza. Each year, dozens of artistic displays and sculptural forms are erected in Black Rock City, the temporary metropolis that hosts the festival. Temples in the past have included a wide range of designs, from pagoda-inspired structures to Wicker Man-eqsue towers. Galaxia, designed by architect Arthur Mamou-Mani a professor at the University of Westminster and the owner of the fabrication laboratory Fab.Pub, has been selected to serve as Burning Man 2018’s main temple. The temple will be constructed of twenty spiraling timber trusses, crowned with a 3-D-printed mandala. A series of alcoves are formed between the timber trusses, allowing spaces of congregation for attendees. According to the Burning Man Journal, the distance between the timber trusses will be wide enough to facilitate movement to the core of the structure. The Galaxia structure “celebrates hope in the unknown, stars, planets, black holes, the movement uniting us in the swirling galaxies of dreams”–a description fitting for the international designs of the festival as well as the broad scope of its attendance. The architect, Arthur Mamou-Mani, has designed installations in Black Rock City for the last six years. Based in London, Mamou-Mani specializes in digitally designed and fabricated architecture. As reported in the Reno Gazette Journal, the 2018 temple will be pre-fabricated and mostly built off-site as a collaboration between a crew of artists using a range of robotic tools such as 3-D printers, laser cutters and robotic drill arms. Through this digital fabrication process, Mamou-Mani hopes to reestablish the architect as craftsman, allowing for a closer connection between the design and construction processes. Shipping the interstellar structure will also prove to be quite a feat, requiring the use of flatbed trucks to transport them to the center of Black Rock City. Regardless of the architectural and engineering efforts going into the Galaxia, the structure is nonetheless temporary and will go up in flames on the last night of the festival, in accordance with Burning Man principles.
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Montreal’s Village au Pied-du-Courant brings a pop-up tropical beach to a wintery city

Canada is better known for its winters, not its beaches, but a new collaborative development in Montreal could change that. Each summer weekend, city dwellers flock to the banks of the St. Lawrence River for high design and a playful, but sincerely socially-engaged tropical beach experience, free for all to enjoy.

Now in its third year, the Village au Pied-du-Courant is designed by 16 teams of architects and artists but is developed collaboratively as a shared public space that sustains the city’s art and creative scenes. Separated from the river by freight tracks and wedged between a busy thoroughfare, the artificial beach is open through September and attracts visitors of all ages.

On a recent visit, children were happily flinging sand and scrambling over the pyramidal L’Oasis de Las Verduras (green oasis), by local firm Cultures Associées, as parents watched from blankets on the sand. After a few tropical cocktails from the on-site bar, some beachgoers were taking naps in fabric hammocks suspended from the installations. Rows of cerfs-volants (kites), constructed of woven plastic beach chair material by Machine Design Appliqué, provided pockets of shade to solitary magazine readers on the otherwise treeless site. Twenty-somethings, slushy mixed drinks in hand, activated a giant fan with foot pedals attached to a beached boat in shooting distance of a rousing game of pétanque (a French version of bocce).

Ambient house music floated from le gazebo f(ê)te, designed by local architects Amélie Ricard and Shanie Jalbert-Bossé, setting the festive atmosphere. An angular stage, constructed from interlocking plywood at a modest budget of around $2,500, exemplifies the ad-hoc elegance of the beach. Framed by the massive Jacques-Cartier Bridge in the distance, the platform hosts a slatted DJ booth and is surrounded by potted palms.

Across the sandy court sits a small museum, constructed of aqua plywood slats with an entrance of bisected circles, that details the history of Village au Pied-du-Courant through citizen-contributed photographs and ephemera. Designed by Table Architecture, one wing is devoted to the Village’s library, which contains thematically relevant books on participatory art, the construction of public spaces, and local history curated by LAAT, a nonprofit that distributes literature on the arts, geography, and architecture.

Next door in FÉLIX & CO’s bureau mobile (mobile office), where workers can charge their electronics and upload photos of the Village to social media. (The organizers have a weekly Instagram contest where the best photos tagged #piedducourant are featured on the Village’s Facebook page.) If you’re stuck at your desk reading this, search the tag for a vicarious trip to the beach.

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Learn how to inflate your space this month with Jesse Seegers

Architects are often maligned for exhibiting inflated egos. Rarely, however, do they have the chance to create inflatable architecture. That could change thanks to a course in New York City run by Jesse Seegers that aims to inform people about the potential of pneumatic and inflatable volumes and how to realize it. Starting on June 6 and taking place in the evening, Seegers will first allow people to experience inflatable spaces while teaching them about the history of the typology. Students will be able to experiment with different materials and techniques including heat welding, tape, and constraining the volumes with ropes and other means. Speaking of his motivation for running the course, Seegers spoke to AN and explained that his interest in inflatables stemmed from his architecture thesis at Princeton University. "Since the 2008 crisis, architecture has mainly become a unit, a means to transform one unit of currency into multiple units of currency," he said. In his thesis, Seegers argued that "During the financial crisis an equally devastating architectural crisis occurred, pulling the curtain away from the alignment of architecture and capitalism" and that architecture itself "has become a form of capitalism." Seegers added that architecture has a tendency to cater to long-term investment opportunities that guarantee return. Hence, structures are seen as commodities, "abdicating their claims to any cultural novelty or spatial experience," whereas inflatable structures, which lack conventional architecture's permanency are "divorced from the whims of capital." "Inflatables deny the normal structure that buildings perpetuate," Seegers continued. "So to have temporary structures that could pop up in a few minutes or a few hours and then go away...they're an excuse for social activities to go on and it's not about the return of investments of a long-term structure." In 2014, his thesis took form, at the Potlach Pavilion in New York. Here, strangers were invited to bring gifts for other strangers, creating a socially active space, amplified in many respects by its temporal nature. https://vimeo.com/66875297 Now a spatial practitioner and the Associate Editor of Digital Projects at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Seegers hopes to teach how the temporal qualities of inflatable volumes can be utilized. He noted that people rarely experience inflatable pneumatic volumes, let-alone get the chance to create them. Seegers also spoke how inflatable spaces can come across as living, breathing organisms, much like how German firm Plastique-Fantastique have been showcasing. "[The spaces] really lower people's inhibitions," he said. "It's a nice etherial space to hang out in and dance in." Ultimately, they're are "meant to be fun" Seegers said laughing, adding that "they're really fun to throw parties in." His course consists of five sessions which run from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.. The course is offered in preparation for an exhibit including a large-scale inflatable that will open at Pioneer Works (who are hosting the course) in September. Further details of the course can be found here.
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Our studio visit with Somerville, Massachusetts–based Landing Studio

The offices of Landing Studio are cluttered with “industrial fossils,” as principal Marie Law Adams calls them: vials of rock salt, cross-sections of old oak piers, a chunk of slag discovered during the demolition of a jet fuel tank. In between the piles of design books, they form a trail of breadcrumbs back to the firm’s founding in 2005, when Adams was hired along with her partner and co-principal Dan Adams to make an attractive public space out of a defunct shipping terminal in Chelsea, Massachusetts. That project went on to win awards for the way it reconciled industrial and recreational uses on the site without diminishing either. It’s typical of Landing Studio’s work, which brings high design to industrial clients that typically don’t get much more sophisticated in their design process than making sure they clear the zoning board.

That work continues today, in the fittingly unrefined Boynton Yards District of Somerville, Massachusetts. Several employees share a unit with the firm Reverse Architecture in a converted four-story mill building whose other tenants include two chocolatiers and a fencing club. The building is like Landing Studio’s work itself: Not exactly postindustrial, but wrapped in the eclecticism and grittiness that the word implies; not just a pretty relic of the past, but something still alive and evolving.

“People, when they hear about our work, immediately start talking about postindustrial sites,” said Dan. “That for us was very jarring, that in the design community people would always say, ‘Oh industry, that’s an interesting niche.’ Industry probably shouldn’t be thought of as a niche. It’s much larger.”

When it comes to urban planning, the partners said, that reductive “postindustrial” mindset often means disparate industrial uses get lumped together. Oil tank farms and salt piles are very different uses that present different opportunities for a designer. But without a firm like Landing Studio, they’re usually glossed over with the same “industrial site” protocol.

“There’s no character like the architect who would negotiate between traffic engineering, civil engineering, and everything that would add up to the operations on the site,” said Marie. “It’s kind of a reflection on the urban landscape. The traditional role of the architect to mediate between a lot of disciplines is something that I think is a new way of working with industrial clients.”

Rock Chapel Marine and Port Chelsea, Massachusetts Landing Studio’s Chelsea harbor project is still the only publicly accessible portion of the town’s industrial waterfront. Bordering a dense residential neighborhood, the six-acre site turns a jet fuel and asphalt-batching terminal into a shared landscape for public recreation and road salt storage. “Do you just try to eliminate industry? Well, how does that serve the sustainability of the region? You’re just displacing the burden somewhere else,” said Dan. “In the case of the Boston Harbor, now it’s very nice to live near the water, but how do you preserve the viability of the region?”Unlike Duisburg-Nord in Germany or the High Line in New York, he says, this is still an active industrial area. “People now like the industrial aesthetic, so it makes it easier for them to stomach actual active industry,” said Adams. “Even though that’s just a kind of dead trophy.”

Marginal Boston A temporary installation developed for the 2015 Boston Design Biennial, Marginal dug deep into the history of its site: the Boston Greenway. With the help of Fitzgerald Shipyard, Landing Studio salvaged eight oak pilings from the Boston Harbor, which were originally used to make new industrial land for the growing port. “Throughout the harbor there’s still this kind of message of the interface between land and water,” said Marie. “That’s how Boston was built, basically by wharfing out piers.” Landing Studio sliced the old piers into 2,000 discs and stacked them into a grid of 18 LED-illuminated piers on dry land in downtown Boston.“We like this continuum: when is something global or local? When is it industrial or natural?” said Dan. “These artifacts, they’re at the margins of our definitions of things.”

Marginal Boston A temporary installation developed for the 2015 Boston Design Biennial, Marginal dug deep into the history of its site: the Boston Greenway. With the help of Fitzgerald Shipyard, Landing Studio salvaged eight oak pilings from the Boston Harbor, which were originally used to make new industrial land for the growing port. “Throughout the harbor there’s still this kind of message of the interface between land and water,” said Marie. “That’s how Boston was built, basically by wharfing out piers.” Landing Studio sliced the old piers into 2,000 discs and stacked them into a grid of 18 LED-illuminated piers on dry land in downtown Boston.“We like this continuum: when is something global or local? When is it industrial or natural?” said Dan. “These artifacts, they’re at the margins of our definitions of things.”

Infra-Space 1 Boston Designed collaboratively with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and engineering firm VHB, Infra-Space is the first in a series of unlikely urban revivals. Using lighting installations, bike paths, and stormwater-absorbing landscape design, Landing Studio turned 13 acres of unused land underneath the I-93 viaduct in Boston’s South End into a multi-modal transportation hub. Paid parking sustains the site financially, while recreational use turns a once foreboding underpass into an inviting public space. “The architecture of the freeway becomes really open and monumental,” said Marie.

(Courtesy Landing Studio)

Lumen. (Courtesy Landing Studio) Lumen New York City This summer, Landing Studio will contribute to their fourth “LUMEN,” a one-night film and performance art festival in New York. On a maritime salt dock on the northern shore of Staten Island, Landing Studio builds salt pile landscapes with theatrical illumination, turning mounds of salt into a convertible gallery for artist installations.
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Winners of the Young Architects Program MAXXI merge theatrical sets, symbolism, and performance

Milanese practice Parasite 2.0 has won the Young Architects Program (YAP) MAXXI 2016 competition with its installation MAXXI Temporary School: The museum is a school. A School is a Battleground. In its sixth year, the program to recognize young architects with a pavilion commission was organized by MAXXI in conjunction with MoMA/MoMA PS1 of New York. Producing "mobile sets that erase the boundaries between natural and artificial," Parasite 2.0 was selected for its ability to reflect the notion that contemporary architecture is the creation of a "scene."  This is done explicitly via the use of wood, rubber, and metal, all composed to form a pop-art-esque movie set on wheels. Vibrant colors, flashing lights, and even cactii cut-outs give the project the distinctive feel of Las Vegas. Among the symbols that adorn Parasite 2.0's sets is a crying luminescent emoji. Meanwhile, over-exaggerated forms and objects take on a satirical tone. The mobile scene, said MAXXI, will be the "backdrop to the museum’s summer events and for the thousand-like selfies of its visitors, but also a reflection on the disappearance of the boundary between space and its representation." An international jury chose Parasite 2.0 as the winner due to its "project’s characteristics place it at the borders between architecture, set design, art and performance." In a statement, organizers said, "Its victory was decreed by its playful, welcoming composition, the inclusion in the project important aspects relating to tis communication and “social” interaction and lastly its ties with a museum, theatrical and cinematographic construction tradition deeply rooted in the history of Rome." Parasite 2.0, primarily a production and research lab, is comprised of Eugenio Cosentino, Stefano Colombo, and Luca Marullo. Together, their work stems from the dynamic of architectural production and urban life. The jury included Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator MAXXI Architettura; Margherita Guccione, Director MAXXI Architettura; Hou Hanru, Artistic Director MAXXI; Monia Trombetta, Coordinator MAXXI Arte; Sean Anderson, Associate Curator of Art and Design MoMA; and Massimo Alvisi, Alvisi Kirimoto + Partners. The winner was chosen from a shortlist that also included Deltastudio (Ronciglione – VT), Angelo Renna (Prato), de gayardon bureau (Cesena), and demogo (Treviso).
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Npsag’s Grass-To-Grid Installation

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A wayfinding beacon for New Orleans’ electronic music festival

With a successful debut last month at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans last, the electronic music festival Buku Music and Art Project could become a mainstay of city’s lineup destination events. Envisioning what a success the event would be, Tulane architecture professors Nathan Petty and Sheena A. Garcia jumped at the opportunity to create a temporary installation for the event site at the edge of the Mississippi River. Petty and Garcia founded their design office, Npsag, in 2008 to work with radical architectural forms and emerging technology. While much of their work is speculative, the Buku installation had the practical purpose of being a wayfinding device at the event’s main entrance.
  • Fabricator Npsag
  • Architect Npsag
  • Location New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Status Temporary installation
  • Materials Vinyl, lumber, fasteners
  • Process Digital design, fabrication by hand
The team calls their piece Grass-To-Grid. It is meant to operate as an arrow, pointing the way to a concert’s VIP areas and main event spaces. "Our client was interested in the re-use of materials from the industrial landscape," said Petty. "However, the name comes from our idea to translate the grassy field of the traditional concert site to the industrial edge of the the Mississippi River. This manifested itself as a completely new digital artifact inspired by digitally composed electronic music. The name itself represents music's evolution from an analog source to a digital one while incorporating this re-thinking of the site" The piece is designed as a series of peaks that can be reconfigured depending on desired crowd interaction. On the first day of the Buku festival, the piece was assembled as a continuous surface, with a small opening for attendees to walk into the center of the piece. “We wanted people to be able to go inside of it to create an immersive experience,” said Petty. On the second day, the installation was divided into two parts, allowing concertgoers to walk through its roughly 4 ½-foot-tall landscape. Npsag designed the installation as an unfolded surface, designing in Rhinoceros, 3D Studio Max, and VRay, then translating the pieces into AutoCAD for construction. The 200-square-foot piece has more than 100 special angles created from the designers’ initial kit of parts and cut and assembled by hand. Twenty-two unique surfaces are framed and hinged to create eight peaks. The piece’s vinyl exterior is a nod to the truck tarps and billboard signage that make up the concert site’s industrial landscape. A black-lined graphic on the skin reiterates the overall shape of the piece. “We kept a keen eye on white surface because we wanted to shine black lights on it, to transform it during nighttime,” said Petty. Will the duo create similar event installations in the future? “We’re certainly interested in working again at this 1:1 scale and having a progressive concept to support it like this kind of super event,” said Petty. “We would certainly love to go bigger. On the other hand we want to go higher-definition, which means higher detail and integration.”