I went to PS1 last weekend to explore the MOS Afterparty architecture exhibit that won the MoMA/PS1 Young Architects Program this year. With a budget of $70,000, the contestants were to incorporate shade, water and seating as components in their projects. The mammoth design, resembling a relative of a known “woolly” animal is on display in the front courtyard/exhibition space. It consists of multiple teepee-esqe, hut-like structures of different sizes with the tops leveled off, allowing the sun to penetrate the display, while keeping the covered areas shaded. A metal framework, covered by a mesh overlay and a layer of what seems to be hair, connects the different conical elements to create one structure. The skin of the shelter, which I referred to as hair, is actually a dark, thatched textile said to create its own microclimate and protect from the hot summer sun. A series of “cooling chimneys” incorporated into the structure, as well as the exisitng concrete walls of the gallery further employ shade and cooling. As I approached the exhibit, I was shocked at first by the hair. As I meandered through, however, I embraced the experience as a grand space which enables the viewer through the focus on the cast shadows through the each opening above. Furthermore, the climate control, which was a large part of the program requirements is very apparent. The space was used for a music series this summer and what an interesting venue that would have been. I am sorry to have missed it. The exhibit will be open until October 26.
As I think further about what this exhibition means for the future, “art as space” comes to mind. The tent-like structure itself, ironically, is reminiscent of a somewhat primitive lifestyle, but being able to walk through an exhibit of this size, interact with it and observe it as a habitat, speaks toward the future. This “urban shelter” as the designers refer to their project, is an interactive environment on display.