Spaces for Spontaneous Singing – a temporary installation selected for the 2019 LA Design Festival, invokes the ‘Purpose of Joy’, as a reframed response to the festival theme, ‘Design with Purpose’. It brings the activity of uninhibited singing from the privacy of one’s shower to a public street parking lot, in a dedicated urban, mini ‘singing shower park’. In play and joy, vulnerable boundaries between private and public behaviors dissolve. Using an ‘authorized’ play setting for all ages, it explores where and how we feel comfortable to express joy, where we hide, and where we test our private face in public.
Architizer chatted with Nina Freedman from Dreamland Creative Projects to learn more about this project.
Architizer: What inspired the initial concept for your design?
Nina Freedman: The theme of ‘Design with Purpose’ inspired an exploration for a temporary project that was not attached to purpose only as a serious, problem solving, civic responsibility. I was interested in reframing an expanded purpose activated by humor, surprise, and fun. Is that not equally viable and important?
With nostalgia, I look back at the time when I was a student at the Architectural Association when the world felt less encumbered (or perhaps we were more naive), and outrageous, experimental programmatic fusions were expected. I am interested in spatial stories about belonging and design. This is explored in my podcast WHEREing.
By reversing public and private behavioral, stereotypical spatial designations, the installation explored vulnerability and belonging. Conversations at the installation with visitors who hesitated to sing were equally important to the participation of singers.
What do you believe is the most unique or ‘standout’ component of the project?
The concept and siting were the most unique parts of the project. Visitors ‘got it’ immediately. Secondly, the fabrication, and tight deadline, was itself a process of invention; 10 weeks from idea submission to installation assembly in Los Angeles (I am in NYC). The simple, affordable materials of the installation were plumbing pipe and connectors, rubber tubing, wood and window insulation. I fell in love with the plumbing aisle in Home Depot. The shower heads were vacuum formed from a baking pan. The prefabricated design components included 12 circular, micro ‘stage’ shower bases, stanchions of varying heights for adults and children, handheld shower ‘microphones’, semi-enclosed privacy screens, and custom seating. The circular language of perforated shower head holes, at varying scales, was a pattern motif for the showers, stages and seating. Pipes transformed into light fixtures.
What was the greatest design challenge you faced during the project, and how did you navigate it?
The greatest challenge was the 10 week schedule (while simultaneously working on other projects and teaching), and the minimal budget. It was fabricated completely by myself without the help of contractors, who typically assist. I was grateful for the workshop use of cnc, laser and vacuum forming technologies at the university where I teach, and to the festival for providing 2 wonderful volunteers for assembly in Los Angeles. Although the schedule was challenging, I love the speed of installations, in contrast to longer schedules of architectural projects.
How did the context of your project — environmental, social or cultural — influence your design?
Inspired by the context of Los Angeles, the home of performance, the installation was designed as an intergenerational experience, for individual singing, or for couples, families or friends to sing together. Intermingled seating encouraged an audience and lounge. Every day, en-route to downtown LA for the installation, I passed a homeless tent encampment. When disassembling the installation, the seating was delivered to the encampment.
What drove the selection of materials used in the project?
The budget, ability to be fabricated into manageable components for assembly and shipping, minimal number of materials, sustainability of materials and simplicity of design.
What is your favorite detail in the project and why?
The shower holes as a motif for the stages and seating at different scales, the microphone made out of window insulation and pipe, the shower head fabricated by vacuum forming over a baking pan, and the pipes of the curving privacy screens transformed into light fixtures at night.
Were any parts of the project dramatically altered from conception to construction, and if so, why?
I originally thought I would fabricate the installation out of wood. The materials were radically altered.
How have your clients responded to the finished project?
Well, the LA Festival staff loved the project, but I think my real clients were the visitors. Not a person passed by who didn’t smile.
LA Design Festival: Client Kelli McGrath: Drawing Renderings Grants: The Awesome Foundation and the JM Eagle Company
For more on Spaces for Spontaneous Singing, please visit the in-depth project page on Architizer.