Helsinki-based architects at JKMM are designing this year's Burning Man pavilion. In true Finnish style, the installation will be a full-fledged sauna. Each year, the organizers of Burning Man, the festival-slash-anarcho-communist gathering in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, ask designers to envision and execute singular works of art. For the festival's 2019 edition, organizers tapped JKMM and Sauna on Fire to design Steam of Life, a usable installation that's intended to energize participants with a good schvitz and introduce people to Finnish sauna culture. The circular Steam of Life will be built from timber, and its spiraling program is meant to gradually transition visitors from the harsh and arid conditions outside into the moist spa bliss within. According to JKMM, a curving passage will beckon the sauna-ready through a darkened area as a soft transition from the desert's brightness. The interior, meanwhile, is furnished with wooden benches and a stove. After the session, visitors will file into the shaded atrium at the center of the pavilion for a final cool down and relaxation. JKMM CEO Samppa Lappalainen selected architects Marcus Kujala, Hannu Rytky, and Päivi Aaltio from his firm to design the project, which will be built by Burners (Burning Man attendees) at the end of this month. JKMM's collaborators at Sauna on Fire are sponsoring a camp at Black Rock City—Burning Man attendees sort themselves out into camps—districts—organized around the burning effigy for which the gathering is named. Following this year's theme of "metamorphosis," Steam of Life's core values, according to its designers, are " [co-creation], volunteerism and inclusion of diverse participant backgrounds. Through self-organizing as an organization model, we aim to empower participants to learn new skills and foster a positive spirit for learning via decentralized decision-making via the build of a sauna installation to Black Rock City. Moreover, in the long run, this way of organizing could foster new types of civic engagement and even address social problems such as marginalization in society. Ultimately, we wish to distribute our learnt [sic] knowledge about the co-created content to a wider audience." But there will be no funny business along the road to a better society. A concept packet released by Sauna on Fire maintains it is not a "party camp" or "XXX," and notes that there should be no "wild sex orgy in the sauna." Keep it clean, y'all. The earnest design of Steam of Life will complement this year's Burning Man central temple. Designed by San Francisco architect Geordie Van Der Bosch, the temple references the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan. For those who have tickets, Burning Man begins next Sunday, August 25 and runs through September 2.
Posts tagged with "Temporary Architecture":
Now in its sixth year, Portland State University (PSU) School of Architecture students designed and built a repurposed and reusable, sky-high temporary performance venue for the Pickathon Music Festival in Happy Valley, Oregon. This year’s Treeline Stage, one of six at the festival, suggests an “orchard of towering trees,” taking inspiration from the structure of apple blossom but built from 160 wooden apple-harvesting bins. The project includes a series of seven towers, each made of roughly 15-to-30 harvesting bins and reaching a maximum of 40 feet tall. Positioned evenly around the site, the towers offer space for audio equipment, a backstage area, and space for food vendors and seating. During the day, sunlight drapes the towers and create imposing shadows as the sky moves. Toward sundown and at night, the towers glow from the inside with projected light and controlled colored LED lights that line the interior of the harvesting boxes. PSU School of Architecture faculty members Travis Bell and Clive Knights led the 40-plus students, alumni, and volunteers through the project’s design and construction. Their concept, “diversion design-build,” refers to mass-produced, construction-related materials that are diverted from their usually industrial purpose and then sent back for reuse following the end of the festival, like the apple harvesting bins. Previous Pickathon projects used materials like cardboard tubes (2015), wooden trusses (2017), and dimensional lumber (2016 and 2018), among others. This year, the harvesting bins were lent by a Pacific Northwest fruit producer and the wooden column structures and thousands of screws were reused from previous stage productions. The students’ inspiration for the overall site strategy and architectural design originated from seasonal and botanical patterns, as well as the number five. The towers have pentagonal clusters of five bins, purposefully stacked to suggest a collection of blossoms in a grove of trees. “A preponderance of five is prevalent in the life history of an apple," the students wrote in their designers’ statement about the project. "There are five sepals around the calyx, five petals in the flower, five stigma, pistils, and ovaries. Upon pollination, these ovaries develop into seed compartments, bearing five seeds, and each pod of five flowers has been stacked to create branches across the site. Composed as a tableau of blossoms, the orchard aligns at pivotal moments behind the stage and from each of the two entrances.”
Cycle or stroll along the Regent's Canal in northeast London and you'll find a new addition to a mad-hat menagerie of quirky architectural interventions populating the water's edge. The Potemkin Theatre, designed by London-based studio Maich Swift, is the third Antepavilion—a yearly competition run by the Architecture Foundation and Shiva Ltd. The Potemkin Theater sits atop a warehouse and looks north over the canal. At 27 feet tall, its prominent position means it can be seen from far down the canal, rising against the post-industrial landscape like a skinny timber Torre Velasca. However, the timber intervention only truly reveals itself as you get much closer; the slender yellow structure's canal-facing facade comes into view and displays a green checkerboard pattern made from gesso-treated canvas panels. Spanning three stories, the building will serve as a performance space, with the structure itself able to be used as a prop as well as a backdrop and theater gallery for performances. The pavilion's name comes from Grigory Potemkin, a Russian who in 1787 supposedly painted the facades of buildings in a Crimean village to impress Empress Catherine II upon her visit. Maich Swift adopted the same notion, taking interest in the way the internal structure can be hidden behind a lively and colorful frontage. "We thought early on that the structure could be accessed by both an audience and performers," said Ted Swift, who cofounded Maich Swift in 2016, speaking to AN. "We wanted the structure to be something that was as flexible as possible," added fellow co-founder Paul Maich. "Stuff like this is slowly disappearing in Hackney." Maich Swift was founded in 2016, with both architects coming from the London-based practice Caruso St. John. Along with Grigory Potemkin, the pair said they were inspired by Monsieur Hulot's home in Jacques Tati’s 1958 French film, Mon Oncle, drawing on the highly visual circulation space exhibited in the film. Behind the canvassed facade, a stair linking the pavilion's three levels is clearly visible between the laminated veneer lumber structural frame. The theater was assembled in just 25 days for a mere $30,000. "We knew we had to build it ourselves (with the help of volunteers) so it had to be practical," said Swift. Furthermore, the pavilion is designed to eventually be unbolted, though before that happens, a two-month-long program of performances, discussion, and events as been planned throughout August and September. In winning the Antepavilion competition, Maich Swift beat out 187 other entries. "Not only were the jury impressed by Maich Swift's quirky design and eclectic references, but we were particularly drawn to Potemkin's potential to become a new cultural venue," said Chloe Spiby Loh, who chaired the judging panel. "This showed the maturity of their approach, which projected a future for the pavilion beyond the commission." An opening party for the pavilion was attended by 180 people, though the structure has yet to be put through its paces as a performance space. "Hopefully we'll be surprised by the way people use it," said Swift.
Behin Ha Design Studio has created Coshocton Ray Trace, a site-specific installation in downtown Coshocton, Ohio, made of scrap material from a coated mesh fabric manufacturer. The project illustrates how a temporary installation can help a small community move towards the revitalization of its declining downtown. Behin Ha was founded by the New Jersey-based duo of Behrang Behin and Ann Ha. Together, they work on a wide range of design challenges from architecture, interiors, and installation projects to make “meaningful, creative interventions in the built environment.” The Pomerene Center for the Arts commissioned Behin Ha to design the temporary shade structure at the site of a burned-down hotel building near the Coshocton town square, coined artPark. Created and maintained by the Pomerene Center, artPark is a space to engage the community with the arts in areas affected by blight. According to the team’s website, the design aims to “work around and with the various interventions that had been made over the years at the artPark.” The installation was built with the help of community members and is now an unexpected, new point of attraction for the town. The construction jumper-orange fabric was sourced from Snyder Manufacturing, located in a nearby town. The fabric trimmings, which are typically recycled, were turned into the bright, tensioned ribbons contrasting between the existing balcony and the ground. Anchoring the fabric at predetermined points creates a twist in the fabric and the installation becomes more transparent at eye level and more opaque toward the south. The 650-square-foot installation will come down at the end of the summer and the fabric will be returned to Snyder’s and recycled back into their manufacturing process.
Although much of the country, Chicago included, is being blasted by arctic air, that doesn’t mean that the beach is out of reach. From now until February 3, Chicagoans can leap into Snarkitecture’s The Beach Chicago, back in the states after serving its last tour of duty in Sydney, Australia. Interested visitors can find the 1.1-million-ball-beach installed inside of the Aon Grand Ballroom at the Navy Pier. The ballroom, designed by Charles Sumner Frost and completed in 1916, is an imposing location for The Beach, as the installation sits under an 80-foot-tall stone-and-steel dome. Visitors can take in the impressive view by lounging on a deck chair, or “floating” in the ocean of translucent antimicrobial balls. The 18,000-square-foot space on the pier has been transformed into a full “beach," complete with umbrellas, lifeguard stations, inflatables, lounge chairs, and the appropriate signage. Restaurants on the pier will be offering up complimentary “beach-themed” menus, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater will continue its run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Beach began as a commission for the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., as part of its annual Summer Block Party series. Snarkitecture responded to the prompt by flooding the museum’s Great Hall with colorless white balls, creating both a play space and meditation on the form of the balls themselves. The installation was so successful that it’s been touring the world as a series of pop-ups ever since, and returned (partially) to the National Building Museum as part of the Snarkitecture retrospective in 2018. The Beach Chicago was made possible with support from The Chicago Free For All Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, the Navy Pier Associate Board, and Hilton Worldwide.
The third annual Ice Breakers Exhibition has returned to the Toronto’s downtown waterfront, dropping five public installations across the edge of Queens Quay West. Ice Breakers is a collaborative public art experience jointly presented by the temporary arts advancement nonprofit Winter Stations, Waterfront Business Improvement Area, and PortsToronto, the Toronto port authority. This year’s Ice Breakers presents four winning designs from a variety of international teams, as well as a student entry from Ryerson University. The theme for the 2019 exhibition was “Signal Transmission,” and appropriately enough, each installation evokes sending or receiving a message. All five of the public pavilions for Ice Breakers were installed on January 19 and will remain on display through February 24. Chroma Key Protest, from Andrew Edmundson, principal of the Toronto-based Solve Architects Inc, references the language of protest. Twenty-five wooden buoys have been clustered and given blank signboards in chroma key green, the same color used in green screens. By appropriating the mechanisms of protesting but leaving the “signs” a color that can be anything, Edmundson invites visitors to project their own grievances onto the installation. Stellar Spectra, from the Toronto-based duo of Rob Shostak and Dionisios Vriniotis, is split into two occupiable pavilions. Each captures and refracts starlight through the dozens of tubes that make up the structure of Stellar Spectra, flooding each of the “lighthouses” with warm and cool-colored light. Connector, from the Hamburg, Germany–based Alexandra Griess and Jorel Heid, at first glance resembles a jumble of wires. That’s intentional, as the designers sought to reference the birds’ nests of communication wires that arose at the beginning of long-distance transmissions. Each of the mouthpieces corresponds to another, but participants will have to hunt for the appropriate end if they want to have a conversation. Tweeta-Gate, from Eleni Papadimitriou and Stefanos Ziras, founders of the Athens, Greece–based Space Oddity Studios (SOS), invites visitors to embark on an audiovisual journey. The series of yellow gates, made from painted wood and joined by metal connectors, are cut into shapes reminiscent of architectural styles from all over the world. Each gate is adorned with bells that can be activated by passersby, or the sway of the wind and natural elements. Tripix, the student submission from Ryerson University, seems purpose-made for the Instagram crowd. The faceted, panelized structure uses a high-contrast color scheme, red-on-white, to draw attention to its central pillar. An appropriate scheme, considering the goal of the exhibition is to get Toronto residents off the couch and into the snow.
The central temple for Burning Man 2019 has been revealed, and architect Geordie Van Der Bosch has chosen to keep the building simple and linear. As opposed to last year’s digitally-fabricated, fractal-invoking Galaxia, 2019’s Temple of Direction references traditional Japanese torii gates and presents a clear entrance and exit. Burning Man takes place on the "playa" of Black Rock Desert in Nevada every August, and 70,000 attendees are expected to crowd into the temporary Black Rock City this year. The theme for 2019 is “Metamorphosis,” and the Temple of Direction is appropriately supposed to represent a journey for the viewer. The 180-foot-long, 37-foot-wide, 36-foot-tall temple specifically references the gates of the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Visitors will pass through a narrow opening that gradually widens to a great hall in the center of the temple before they pass into an open-air gap and exit through the other end. The four entrances to the temple have also been aligned to the four cardinal directions, and the entire installation will be encircled by eye-shaped fencing. According to the Burning Man Journal, “This linear form reflects the passage of life with its beginning, middle, and end. Throughout the structure, there are areas that reflect this journey: narrow & wide spaces, bright & dark spaces, and tunnels that create intimate physical settings. Meanwhile, a large central hall, an altar, and many shelves for offerings create the setting for our collective experience.” The San Francisco–based Van Der Bosch has lived in England and Japan previously (near the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine his temple is based on). He’s also an avid Burning Man attendee, having been to seven previous festivals. Interested in helping realize the Temple of Direction? Festival organizers are currently looking for volunteers to help fabricate the temple in Oakland, California, and will begin fundraising to cover the construction costs soon. Of course, as is the Burning Man way, the entire temple will be set on fire and razed when the festival ends on September 2.
Over the past decade or so, architecture has seen a wave of interest in humanitarian design. Once a marginal subfield, humanitarian architecture has come into the mainstream of the discipline through exhibitions, institutions, and practices: the 2016 Venice Biennale curated by Alejandro Aravena; MoMA’s Small Scale Big Change, Uneven Growth (2016–2017) and Insecurities (2010–2011) shows; Cooper Hewitt’s series Design for the Other 90%; organizations like Architecture for Humanity (AfH) and Architecture Sans Frontières (Architecture Without Borders); prominent architects like Aravena, Frances Kéré, and Shigeru Ban, and younger practices like MASS Design Group and Rural Urban Framework. While this turn toward a newfound sense of altruistic purpose was perhaps a needed corrective, arriving just as the myth of the “starchitect” was imploding with the 2008 financial crash, the apparent benevolence of humanitarian architecture belies a far more complicated set of ethical dilemmas. Despite the suggestion by Cameron Sinclair, the founding director of Architecture for Humanity, that he had “six billion clients” compared with the very few who could afford a certain Pritzker Prize winner, architecture in the name of a universal humanity obscures the fact that the powers that made a group like AfH’s work possible represent particular alignments of interests and actors. These actors—international NGOs, national governments offering development aid, private foundations and philanthropies, corporate social responsibility programs, and supranational entities like the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization, and the World Bank—are certainly not the “humanity” invoked by Sinclair, but rather comprise a heterogeneous complex of international organizations, infrastructure, laws, technologies, industries, and weaponry. Humanitarian architecture participates in a series of entanglements that take cover under the name of humanity, and the humanitarian project is enlisted, often knowingly, in the interests of national or international security and economic globalization. Rather than pursuing a righteous moral position self-evidently aligned with “the good,” architectural practices that work in the context of disaster relief operations or refugee crises could make evident the complexity of their ethical commitments. One way for architects to do so is to consider the spatiality of aid operations. Rony Brauman, the former president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), introduced a key term into the lexicon of aid work, the concept of “humanitarian space,” an operational environment in which humanitarian organizations are free to deliver aid without the interference of political forces. Crucial to Brauman’s definition is the political independence and neutrality, at least in theory, of the institutions, technologies, and actors that participate in relief efforts. The concept of humanitarian space thus implies the separation of a moral imperative from the narrow interests of politics, one oriented toward the preservation of human life and the lessening of suffering. While Brauman understands humanitarian space as a neutral sphere, architects are perhaps better prepared to recognize the politics at work in the repertoire of spatial and architectural forms through which this abstract space becomes instantiated, localized, and concretized in specific cities following a disaster or conflict. Unlike the abstract “space” of humanitarian space, these particular physical spaces suggest the outlines of the political and economic interests at work in humanitarian contexts. The buildings, walls, checkpoints, and infrastructures that organize these spaces give weight, form, and durability to Brauman’s concept of humanitarian space. The spatial devices of humanitarian aid, such as tent camps, peacekeeping bases, water and sanitation systems, as well as more complicated derivatives like export processing zones, are repeated in similar physical forms at sites across the globe, but in each context nonetheless produce a different configuration of the surrounding space. Architects are perhaps uncommonly attuned to the ways in which these spatial-architectural forms act as a kind of short-circuit between the universalizing claims of the humanitarian project and the particularities of the sites that are the staging grounds of humanitarian operations. Sites of humanitarian operations are organized by a repertoire of architectural techniques of separation and incorporation, dividing the spaces of relief operations from civic life while simultaneously negotiating adjacencies and channels of circulation between the city and humanitarian spaces. Walls separate the normal order of a city from a tent camp, slum, export processing zone, or embassy complex, while the gates and checkpoints of these places regulate the movement of people and supplies across their boundaries. The temporary shelters provided by humanitarian organizations offer relief from homelessness and space for daily routines, but also indefinitely defer the resettlement of displaced populations. In simultaneously separating and incorporating, humanitarian spatial devices participate in what the anthropologist Didier Fassin paradoxically terms “humanitarian government.” A humanitarian government, in Fassin’s conception, works not only across national borders, but also on the very boundaries between state and non-state formations and between universal moral imperatives and particular political conflicts. The result is a form of international humanitarian order that is sustained through the coordinated activities of NGOs with national and local governments, supranational organizations like the UN, military operations, and multinational corporations. The recent resurgence of nativist politics in the U.S. and Europe represents a significant challenge to the future of this humanitarian order, or at least proves that the spatial devices it employs in the name of humanity can easily be turned toward violently nationalist ends. But this has always been the case: The spatial form of the refugee camp, of course, has its origins in military operations, as do the bases of peacekeeping missions. Many manufacturers of relief aid supplies are offshoots of defense contractors. The most sophisticated spatial practices for managing displaced populations can be found in ethno-nationalist states. The threat of the withdrawal of America and European states from the liberal international order, including its humanitarian mandate, is likely only to exacerbate humanitarian crises, as seen in the past several years in Europe’s response to migration from Syria and North Africa, and most recently on the U.S.-Mexico border. Faced with the violence of the nation-state, architectural practice in humanitarian contexts could rethink the spaces of refugee camps and settlements as representing the possibility of a non-state politics. Humanitarianism claims a moral purpose, in that it acts not in the interests of any parties, but for the good of humanity itself. In this sense, humanitarianism is sometimes seen as opposed to or transcending political life. But humanitarian operations and their effects on cities are perhaps opposed not to the political, but to the state; or, more precisely, to the spatial ordering of state territory through the institutions of private land ownership and national boundaries. Humanitarian spaces point toward new spatial and political formations: governance structures, property laws, and models of land tenure that respect the complex forms of ownership seen in refugee camps and other communities where no land titles exist, or where land has never been formally divided into parcels, or where a legal distinction between public and private space is not specified. The refugee camp is therefore not outside the realm of politics, but rather points toward a political community beyond the nation-state, and beyond property and territory, the spatial extensions of the state. Seen in this light, humanitarian spaces, like camps and settlements, might not be outside the polis; rather they are emerging sites of non-state politics. The architecture of these humanitarian spaces would be designed not for a universal humanity reduced to its basic needs, but for the humans of a political life still to come. Benedict Clouette and Marlisa Wise are the authors of Forms of Aid: Architectures of Humanitarian Space.
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 commission 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.
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.
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.
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.