“It’s about creating outdoor environments that people can feel comfortable in. Something as subtle as fog can change the environment substantially,” says Bryan Roe, president of Koolfog, “and it doesn’t just change the temperature. Depending on the design of the misting or fog system, it can change the entire feel and look of your environment.” A goal CODA, Caroline O’Donnell’s experimental research and design studio, aspired to produce when they called Koolfog to integrate a high-pressure misting system into their project for the 2013 Young Architect’s Program. Needing to utilize water as well as create outdoor cooling areas as part of the Program requirements, Koolfog collaborated with CODA to add an interactive and reactive feature that would help keep the MoMA PS1 visitors cool all summer long.
Literally created as an urban landscape, singing to the billboards of the Long Island City sky line, whispering to the graffiti that colors the city, you will find a Party Wall. What, you ask, is a Party Wall? In architecture speak it is space, shared by many parties to create different environments for different needs all within the same physical context. This particular Party Wall temporarily inhabits MoMA PS1’s large triangular courtyard that has readied itself for a summer of an experimental concert series as well as a long list of classes, lectures and additional performances throughout the hot summer months. CODA won this year’s honor to install their temporary urban outdoor environment, chosen among the best, brightest and most innovative architects. Collaboration between MoMA PS1 and The Museum of Modern Art, each year the Program’s objectives challenge the most talented and hand chosen architects to create a structure that “provides visitors with an outdoor recreational area for the summer – a much needed refuge in an urban environment – making the best use of the pre-existing space and available materials.” Only the most innovative and creative will be left standing.
At installation completion on June 27th, CODA’s Party Wall stands tall, utilizing left over eco-friendly skateboard “bones” woven together to form a flexible skin across steel beams, ballasted by giant tear drops of water filled “pillows”. The bottom of the Wall holds 120 panels of tables and chairs made from more of the same bones, uncut and misprinted. An interactive component was also added to the bottom panels to communicate reservations, messages, graffiti or calendars for the constantly changing dynamic that will populate the MoMA’s PS1 courtyard.
An aqueduct runs through the structure, flowing into a series of pools at the base of the Wall. The Party Wall stands at an incredible height, mirroring the substantial billboards of Long Island City, while also providing substantial shade during the summer months. This shade acts as an addition to the existing outdoor cooling stations and creates exactly the kind of refuge the Program’s objectives challenged. At first glance, the structure seems to almost spell out its namesake, yet it doesn’t. But the Wall does speak; it speaks in the language of shadows. “And even then, says little, except what it would like to be: a WALL,” confirms CODA.
As the air will fill with laughter and chatter, as the children begin to play and people start engage with one another, the misting system strategically placed under the archway formed by the upside down “W” cools patrons and acts as a dynamic highlight to the artistry and reactionary magnificence of the Party Wall. The performers will perform, the musicians will sing their melodies, and the educators will share their knowledge. And Koolfog’s outdoor cooling system will cool. It will cool and speak, as everything does, with the language Caroline discovered as she completed this project: “we started to understand the relationship between the wall and other languages – Long Island City, the billboards, the graffiti. We realized we had entered into a dialogue with a bigger urban context.”
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