Monday, July 03, 2006


BEATFUSE! in Long Island City, New York by OBRA Architects

Photographs are by Liao Yusheng and can be found on his BEATFUSE! Flickr set.

"No two New Yorkers are alike; everyone moves to a different beat. When the warmup DJs match tunes, beats fuse. Form follows flexion and air is suffused with mist + light, as all dance under a penumbra of moire."

So goes OBRA Architects' description of their competition-winning project for PS1/MoMA's 7th Annual Young Architects Program this year.

Led by Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee, OBRA's design for the courtyard of PS1's Long Island City home strays from designs by nARCHITECTS and Hernan Diaz Alonso in the last couple of years by opting for more substantial coverage -- unlike the former's open bamboo structure -- and a less overt blob-itecture -- unlike the latter's alien forms. The result is a happy medium between those two extremes, where a polypropylene mesh skin that provides relief from the hot summer sun is set within a plywood structure of complex shapes and spans. Both are made possible by the use of computer technologies.

The outdoor installation incorporates seven shells, creating seven "rooms" within the triangular courtyard space. Pools, misters, and light strainers under these shells help provide for increased cooling during the especially crowded Warm Up, where DJs and other musicians add music to the mix of art and architecture. In addition to the covered spaces, three outdoor spaces are provided: a caldarium (sandbox gallery), a tepidarium (the seven shells), and a frigidarium (small gallery lined with ice and insulation). The combination of these three spaces and the seven shells seems to be an overt attempt by the architects to align their design with Ancient Roman baths.

Faced with a budget of $70,000, the architects appear to to have achieved a lot for very little. Compared with last year's poor execution, these photographs indicate a heftier structure with equally hefty connections, hopefully making for an installation that lasts through the crowds of summer.

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