PS1 MoMA Young Architects Program winner 2006, winning competition proposal by OBRA Architects, view from above of BEATFUSE! with its seven curved, interconnected shells made of plywood and polypropylene mesh that ripple throughout the courtyard which, according to P.S.1 Director Alanna Heiss, "From above OBRA's winning design resembles a gigantic albino python curled up in the courtyard, and the interior makes me imagine being inside luminescent golf balls"
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5PS1 MoMA Young Architects Program winner 2006, concertina with four hands | 6 | 7 | 8PS1 MoMA Young Architects Program winner 2006, tidal pools in the Tepidarium | 9 | 10PS1 MoMA Young Architects Program winner 2006, light in the Caldarium | 11 | Play Movie PS1 MoMA Young Architects Program winner 2006 BEATFUSE! movie animation by OBRA | BEATFUSE! AS BUILT | PS1
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New York
March 2006
2008 AIANY Design Award



BEATFUSE! will be constructed as a structure of pervasive interiority, a context to be entered and experienced from within rather than observed from without as object.

WarmUp has developed into an anticipated annual ritual celebration of the city's cosmopolitan culture without losing its soul of neighborhood block party. The summer WarmUp event is filled to capacity with New Yorkers, most of whom are not originally from New York; a quick review of the artists featured in the Greater New York 2005 show AT PS1 reveals that only 13 of 146 included in the exhibition catalog were born in New York. Most of the New York population actually come from somewhere else, looking for something they deem important for their lives, they are seekers. They may or may not find a version of what they seek, but they always contribute the uniqueness of their individuality, their ONENESS to the multifarious culture of the city.

WarmUp is the recurrent moment in the city's annual cycle when this multiplicity converges in one place at one time in one great big happening. Everyone becomes an artist. Each unique voice blends together into a whole for a few moments every summer Saturday without losing its individuality, like two dissimilar songs seamlessly eased into each other by a DJ's masterful beatmatch.

The creation of a space of interiority, a background to the figure of the WarmUp crowds, requires precise architectural operations. To evoke a sense of interior space the proposed structure extends to the boundaries of the site and matter is spread thin to achieve the most with the least. When we refer to the creation of such space we are thinking of the physical, of course, but also of what that manipulation means. By lending matter our consciousness, we take responsibility for all things of the world.

The large triangular outdoor gallery is partially covered with seven shells that we propose to be manufactured and assembled in a workshop and later deployed on site. We refer to these shells as concertina, since in their accordion-like capacity to fold into a relatively small size for transportation they resemble concertina devices such as pantographs, household shower mirrors and folding gates.

These concertina are modeled and manufactured digitally using a CNC router to achieve their dynamic curved form. The fact that the concertina will be manufactured indoors and only assembled in situ will provide economy, precision and speed of construction.

By virtue of the thickness of the material proposed these structures would seem unlikely to span the 20 to 30 feet distances required, but by forcing the pieces into curves and connecting them into an irregular grid, we can elicit the emergence of a tension that allows them to adequately reach much further than that. Simple inert matter is made "conscious" of its hidden potential.

The concertina are covered with a skin of polypropylene mesh scales approximately 2'-6" x 2'-6" in size. These scales will be laser-cut in hexagonal shapes to avoid material waste and attached only at one point to the structure. The scales will allow wind and rain to move through them without excessively taxing the structure with lateral or lifting loads while providing soft penumbral shade. The inexpensive material has been chosen because it is rigid enough to return to its original position after the wind dies down and yet flexible enough to seamlessly adjust to the curved surfaces of the concertina while overlapping in ways that generate gently nuanced patterns of moire texture.

The pools proposed have also been designed to adjust to the changing conditions on the site: just as the concertina contract and expand to facilitate construction, and the scales gently open to let wind through, similarly the pools have the ability to either grow to their maximum footprint or to shrink into discrete circular ponds. This allows the inclusion of larger crowds and access to slightly raised levels where one can stand, sit or dance. During times other than WarmUp when there may be fewer visitors, the pools can expand to their maximum size to fill the space with reflections of the sky and the concertina above. The potential of such behavior, reactive to changing external conditions, is another instance of matter's own awareness that the project seeks to enable.

Water misters, a favorite of WarmUp DJs, are provided throughout the project at six different locations. The misters play an important role in lowering the temperature of the surrounding air. They are protected under three-foot diameter steel mesh hemispheres that resemble giant kitchen strainers. Inside each strainer is a light fixture, which, when turned on the mist will solidify the light beams into constantly changing formless shapes, a phenomena similar to that of light siphoned out into nebulous space by clouds caught atop the Empire State Building on a stormy night.

The WarmUp crowds are an aesthetic experience and therefore their presence must be prolonged. We hope to encourage visitors to stay longer by offering climatic comfort and variety through architecture.

The sandbox gallery is designated as the Caldarium. It will have little to no shade, an array of radial chaise lounges for sunbathing and a large soaking pool. The barbecue grill is located here. In the large triangular gallery, as shade lowers the temperature of the ground by deflecting radiation, as pools and misters cool the air by evaporation, and as the concertina shells bring the soothing breeze down to people, the overall effect can lower the temperature by as much as five degrees. This space called the Tepidarium is appropriate for conversation, eating, drinking and impromptu dancing. Finally, for those who may feel they have already had enough of summer we will configure the small gallery as a Frigidarium. To that end, the walls will be lined with foil bubble reflective insulation which we will also use to make the scales of the concertina in this room. Every Saturday morning for the duration of WarmUp, blocks of ice will be arranged at the bottom of the wall to create an ice bench.

If everyone is an artist, we could celebrate these newly acknowledged creative powers by literally highlighting each and everyone's uniqueness, their ONENESS. This could be fulfilled by rendering all "ones" in PS1 in glow-in-the-dark paint for the duration of the summer.

Project credits:
OBRA Architects, architectural design, Pablo Castro, Jennifer Lee, Akira Gunji, Shin Kook Kang, Kaon Ko, Selin Semaan, Luis Miguel Silva da Costa

Robert Silman Associates, structural design, Nat Oppenheimer
Transsolar Energietechnik GmbH, cllimate engineering, David White
Tillett Lighting Design, lighting design, Linnaea Tillett, Stephen Horner, Yeune Kyue Kim
Dr. Gerald Palevsky PE, pool design
Omnivore, graphic design, Alice Chung, Karen Hsu
Site Assembly, concertina mockup & video, Terry Chance, Kevin Karpinski
Panagiotis Chatzitsakyris, BEATFUSE animation
Bartco Lighting