Light Cloud, Oceanfront pavilion proposal by OBRA Architects, New York submitted to Creativetime and ArtBasel Miami
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The Oceanfront Pavilion for Art Basel Miami Beach 2010 will be an environment defined not so much by objects as by a patch of persistent light. Presumably the pavilion will be accessible to the public throughout the day, but it is in the evenings between six and midnight that the programmed functions are meant to create an area where "the artworld interfaces with the broader public." As envisioned here, while night slowly advances on the shore and darkness gradually descends over Miami Beach, a glowing cloud will appear on the sand at first almost imperceptibly, and then later as an undeniable presence.  This cloud of light will coincide with the size of the Oceanfront Pavilion and people curious about art will be attracted to it like moths to a burning flame. Perhaps this would be interpreted by some as a metaphor of art curiosity becoming art obsession (with possibly similarly fatal consequences.) Our cloud of light will create a space that would be at once clearly present but also loosely defined, with edges that gradually fade off into darkness making it impossible to say with certainty where anything begins or ends, potentially embodying the porous and changing edges that separate what is and is not considered Art. This stationary cloud of light both subtle and tangible will contain and define within itself a simply but effectively appointed space, one which will allow the full programmatic satisfaction of the pavilion's envisioned uses by the most efficient and economical means possible.

The cloud of light will be created by the deployment of a net defined as a 5-foot-square grid of electroluminescent wire placed roughly 24 feet above ground and suspended from simple steel tube posts and industry standard steel cable rigging. Electroluminescent tubbing is rather economical, costing an average of $1.20 per linear foot. Alternatively, side-emitting fiber-optic fiber or LED rope lighting could be used depending on a subsequent detailed cost-effectiveness analysis that could be part of the next phase in the project. In order to ensure that the structure could be realized within budget, we also envision the use of standard off-the-shelf steel columns and rigging cable which will all contribute to an economical realization of the proposal.

A preliminary budget analysis included here outlines three different possibilities, these are all accurate but also subject to considerable refinement that will dovetail with the logical development of the project as it is researched and refined.

The specialized equipment necessary in the pavilion will be either rented (possibly tables and chairs for example) or constructed out of plywood and standardized timber, if a more sizable budget analysis allows such options. There will be three zones loosely defined by furniture:
1. Stage with audience grated seating. These could be both built out of plywood and dimensional lumber or rented for the duration of the event. If graded seating is used, an area for regular chairs and wheel chairs would be contemplated in front of the stage to ensure universal accessibility to the functions. This area also contemplates a projection screen and the necessary audio-visual equipment to provide for functions including, video, music, film and spoken word.

2. Cafe/Bar area with service facilities below or behind the audience seating and a surface paved with plywood on which to set rented or fabricated patio chairs and tables, area also to be used as a dancing floor. The tables could include umbrellas for sun or rain protection.  If budget allows, we could alternatively fabricate customized Art | Basel | Miami Beach 2010 furniture quite inexpensively using plywood and CNC technology. These pieces could become "collectors items" and be auctioned off at the end of the fair as memorabilia of the event. OBRA designed similar "flat-packed" furniture for its recent Red+Housing show at the National Art Museum of China. This furniture was a great success with visitors.

3. Lounge area for those of a contemplative disposition or those that have already had enough and want to check-out and relax, looking at the stars or simply withdraw to quiet conversation. This area will consist of a formation of chaise-lounges on the sand. This furniture can be inexpensively fabricated out of insulation foam, plywood, fiberglass and epoxy. A similar item was also designed by OBRA for its PS1 MoMA installation BEATFUSE!

In keeping with the "roof" of the Oceanfront Pavilion proposed as a cloud of light suspended just overhead above the visitors, the pavilion exterior "walls" are envisioned defined by light as well. To that effect semi-translucent projection screens will bridge between some of the posts supporting the net above. On these screens a variety of content could be projected, ranging from video-art from this year's fair, to abstract light experiments that could perform as background ornamentation and a source of kinetic secondary illumination. Seen from outside, this arrangement could give the pavilion a changing public face by assuming different motifs of pattern, form or color each day, even each hour of the fair.

Ultimately, the success of the pavilion will be measured in terms of attendance, and it is appealing to think of the crowd as another one of the design's constitutive elements, hopefully the most important one. One way to celebrate the public would be to produce the Art | Basel | Miami Beach 2010 T-shirt. This T-shirt could be worn by the pavilion's denizens during functions and gatherings and would be emblazoned with the appropriate legends, logos and designs, including a glow-in-the-dark grid pattern that will leave smooth traces of their trajectories through space as people move through the relative darkness of the evening. Because the ephemeral nature of glow-in-the-dark phenomena, people out dancing on the floor would have to "replenish" the charge of their glow in time. To this effect, each table in the Cafe/Bar could be outfitted with a candle-like light source that would provide the whiff of a residually romantic atmosphere to the setting while discreetly refilling the patron's T-shirts with luminescence as they return to their tables to rejoin friends and have another drink.

OBRA Architects
15 April 2010