Weaving the Courtyard
Andres Soliz Paz & Lazbent Pavel Escobedo Amaral
Long Island City, USA
Fahey Design build (Contractor) Michael Kreha (Construction) Rodrigo Mazari (Project / Construction) Stefanie Verhoeyen (Project / Construction) Hiroshi Ando (Project / Construction) Andy Sternad (Construction Volunteer) Debbie Aphrodite Vapheas (Construction Volunteer) Kara Biczykowsky (Construction Volunteer) Nicole Staake (Construction Volunteer) Jeevan Farias (Construction Volunteer) Weaving Hand (Textile Studio)
Rafael Gamo Fassi
There are very few program needs for this pavilion. Basically, it has to provide shade, seating, and water for the young crowds that come every summer to the Saturday music performances but also for all the other visitors that come to visit the museum in the mid-week or the parents that come with their children to enjoy the summer installation in the weekends. We translated these three needs into experiences and atmospheres that we wanted to create on the courtyards. To provide shade we did a rope canopy that resembles the colorful atmosphere of the ephemeral streets markets of Mexico. We wanted to provide water in two different experiences; in a liquid state from a water mirror and in an ethereal and dense experience inside the mist-room. To provide sitting we thought of wooden embankments made out of a modular bench that could retain sand on the main courtyard, water in the medium courtyard and serve as a long and stable bench, instead of filling up the courtyards with furniture sacrificing flexibility. During the competition, we needed to approach solutions in a very pragmatic way, to guarantee the success of the project. We knew that it was very risky for the jury to choose a foreign office with almost no experience, so we made a very clear and simple project that could be built by anyone, at that stage of the project we knew that we would end up building this pavilion by ourselves and probably a few volunteers.
Weaving the Courtyard was the winning proposal of the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program 2016 and our first built commission. The objective of the competition is to build an ephemeral outdoor installation on the courtyard of the MoMA PS1 for the summer. Our approach was to work with the preexistence by doing a site-specific intervention instead of designing an object or a defined building within the courtyard. By doing this, we could cover all the spaces on the courtyard of the PS1 with a series of simple but powerful actions on the preexistence that generated new and different atmospheres in every space of the courtyard. Probably, the main impetus behind this project was given by the preexisting concrete walls as we used their precast formwork holes as a modulated loom to weave a colorful canopy, to fit the mist nozzles on the smallest courtyard that created a very dense and refreshing mist or as containment barriers for the sand and the water. In the end, we wanted the project to be a tribute to the site-specific artists that have passed through the MoMA PS1 for over 40 decades and left their mark on this building and also in our practice.
We were concerned about using materials that could resist the high temperatures, water, and rough use. This is why we used polyester ropes that won’t lose their color or deform over time and the benches were made of solid wood with very strong unions. We build all the pavilion by ourselves, 8 volunteers and a contractor that borrowed us their workshop and some hand labor. We finished on schedule and we had money left to do, the food stall tents, the dance floor and the stage. People were enjoying and interacting with the installation but the installation was never the protagonist of the space, it felt like the benches, the sand and the pool have always been there and that the holes in which we weaved the canopy would have been made for that. Finally, we were conscious that the life of these materials was larger than the life of the installation itself. This is why we used the materials as they are, without altering their original state, therefore at the end of the summer these materials can be reused after the installation. In the end of the installation, we donated all these ropes to a local weaving studio called Weaving Hand, they are still making fabric out of it. The benches were sold in a garage sale after the deinstallation and we donated half of them to different community gardens, the sand was taken back to the sandbank and we ended up producing almost zero waste after the deinstallation.