This summer, Governors Island will show off another outdoor installation from the City of Dreams Pavilion competition, now in its seventh edition. The annual competition hosted by the non-profit FIGMENT (along with the Emerging New York Architects Committee of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, and the Structural Engineers Association of New York) asks architects to design a temporary pavilion where environmental impact and sustainability are core principles. Requiring designers to consider the ecological effects of their designs from materials sourcing to disposal of waste, entrants are encouraged to reuse salvaged construction materials, work with manufacturers that produce cradle-to-cradle products, and seek sponsorship from socially and environmentally responsible organizations.
The 2018 jury, which included David Benjamin of New York–based The Living and Jorge Otero-Pailos, AIA, director and professor of historic preservation at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation among others, has picked "Oculi" as this year's winning proposal. Designed by Austin+Mergold, an architecture, landscape and design practice founded by Aleksandr Mergold and Jason Austin, the pavilion will be constructed from old metal silos.
Read on for more.
The winning proposal will reuse old metal grain bins (silos), vestiges of the American agro-industrial age, hearkening back to how the medieval inhabitants of Rome reoccupied the remains of the Ancient Empire—with a bizarre combination of pragmatism and poetry. The grain bin is our contemporary spolia; as such these structures can be both useful and fanciful.
The bins, which dot the fields of upstate New York, will be brought to the city, establishing a visual connection between urban and rural modes of living. A field of elevated oculi will frame unobstructed views of the sky and track the path of the sun, producing a range of shadow patterns augmented by color and sound. The interiors of these suspended rooms will be painted a particular color of the daytime sky, inviting viewers to negotiate their paths below the structures. As viewers look up through the oculi, the colors of the walls of the silo will at times match the color of the sky.
Following the de-installation of Oculi, the bins will be reconstructed as an experimental housing cluster in central New York. There, interior views into the repurposed bins will occasionally reveal colors of a New York City summer sky.
FIGMENT is accepting tax-deductible donations to support the fabrication, installation, and maintenance of the pavilion on Governors Island for the 2018 summer season. Donations can be made by following the link here. The project will likely also be launching its own funding campaign.
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