NO TWO NEW YORKERS ARE ALIKE; EVERYONE MOVES TO A DIFFERENT BEAT. WHEN THE WARMUP DJS MATCH TUNES, BEATS FUSE. FORM FOLLOWS FLEXION AND AIR IS SUFFUSED WITH MIST + LIGHT, AS ALL DANCE UNDER A PENUMBRA OF MOIRÉ.
WARMUP 2006 BEATFUSE!
ONENESS This project is about the people of New York City, both as a whole and considered individually. We propose the construction of 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 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 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.
FUSION The creation of a space with 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 refer to the physical, but also to what it means to manipulate the things of the world. In keeping with Joseph Beuys’ claim that we could become the revolution by fusing life with art, we aspire to effectively lend a consciousness to the matter enlisted in our construction.
BEATFUSE! is the winning project of the 2006 Young Architects Program organized annually by PS1 Contemporary Art Center and the Museum of Modern Art as the site of their popular Warm Up series. Every Saturday of the summer, the hottest block party in New York City takes place here, an anticipated yearly ritual celebrating music, art and architecture, along with the cosmopolitan diversity of the city’s population. Just like diverse tunes fused seamlessly by the expert maneuvers of the Warm Up DJ’s, thousands of different New Yorkers join in a moment of togetherness without losing their individuality.
CONCERTINA The space is partially covered with 10 concertina shells manufactured and assembled in a workshop and later deployed on site. They are modeled and manufactured digitally using a CNC router to achieve their dynamic curved form. By virtue of the thickness of the material proposed these structures would seem unlikely to span the 20 to 30-foot 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 further than that.
PENUMBRA The concertina are covered with a skin of polypropylene mesh scales. They 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 moiré texture. Through testing and sampling, the project team chose an extruded netting product which elicited similar effects of shadow and moiré as early schematic study models. A simple industrial product of plastic mesh is transformed into a dazzling interiorized canopy via simple connections and repeated forms.
Each concertina shell is unique, but they fuse into each other to create a realm that spans the entire courtyard and creates multiple places of distinctive mood and atmosphere. Each component is different, assembled at varying heights, positions and angles. Nonetheless, all connections are conceptually the same. One single idea runs through the entire project and materializes in the steel brackets which adjust to the conditions of each connection, allowing the wood beams to connect to each other, to the ground, and the concrete courtyard walls, which could not be permanently altered for this temporary installation. All brackets are lasercut out of 1/4” steel and then bent and welded. Each component of the construction–the arch, the bracket, or the concertina shell–is repeated many times. But each instance is distinct and unique, either having a different radius, a different angle, or different proportions. Repetition here avoids monotony and begets uniqueness.
The rich versatility of the qualities of wood and its expressive potential are employed throughout the project. In spite of the modest proportions of the section employed to construct the concertina, the structures are able to span up to 30 feet. The bolted connections force the wood into an unnatural form, eliciting a tensile strength to emanate from its fiber's substance.
This delicate construction requires a rigid frame to dampen undesired vibrations from propagating about the shells and threatening them with destruction. This armature is constructed in very heavy and dense sections of two layers of CNC-routed reconstituted wood panels which have been epoxied and then bolted together on site to define the arches.
The pools are constructed in layers of rigid foam and CDX plywood that are then coated and epoxied for waterproofing. They are conceived as inverted boats, that is, boats that can contain rather than exclude the water. The pool construction system was invented to be easily assembled from CNC-milled parts onsite to build an economical temporary environment that both cooled the shaded areas and provided seating for both shade-seekers and sunbathers.
LIGHT STRAINERS 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.
UNSEASONABLE TEMPERATURES 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. Inspired by the original social space of the Roman baths, the tripartite layout of the courtyards have been developed into three distinct temperate environments.
CALDARIUM The sandbox gallery is designated as the Caldarium. It has little to no shade, an array of radial chaise lounges for sunbathing and a large soaking pool. The barbecue grill is located here. To enhance the bathing experience, we have produced PS1/MoMA matte black rubber ducks that will float on the pools for ambiance (currently available at the MoMA Design Store).
TEPIDARIUM 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.
FRIGIDARIUM Finally, for those who may feel they have already had enough of summer, the small gallery is configured as a Frigidarium. To that end, the walls are lined with inexpensive foil bubble reflective insulation which is also used for the scales of the concertina in this room. Every Saturday morning for the duration of WarmUp, blocks of ice are arranged at the bottom of the wall to create an ice bench.
THE CHALLENGE This project transforms an outdoor concrete-walled courtyard gallery into a playful and dynamic space through the inventive use of common materials and standard building components while utilizing the speed and efficiency of current technologies of prefabrication and production. Entirely digitally fabricated using CNC milled wood and laser-cut steel from emailed 3D files in a completely paperless process, the project was designed in 6 weeks' time and constructed in less than 12 weeks.
The year 2006 marks the ninth summer that PS1 has hosted a combined architectural installation and music series in its outdoor galleries. Inherent in the challenge of this project are constraints of not only budget but time, with competition proposals prepared within six weeks and construction taking place in less than twelve weeks. While such demands in the past have led to solutions tending towards a more sculptural nature, the intent of the constructed gallery installation BEATFUSE! aims to envelop the inhabitant, pushing the experience towards an interiority that suggests a bridge between the realm of art and that of architecture.