Folly 2013: tree wood

Folly is a competition co-sponsored by the Architectural League and Socrates Sculpture Park which invites emerging architects and designers to propose contemporary interpretations of the architectural folly, traditionally a fanciful, small-scale building or pavilion sited in a garden or landscape to frame a view or serve as a conversation piece. Folly was established in 2011 by Socrates, in partnership with the League, to explore the intersections between architecture and sculpture and the increasing overlaps in references, materials, and building techniques between the two disciplines. Socrates Executive Director John Hatfield writes:

What is the difference between architecture and sculpture? Plumbing. This oft-cited aphorism, repeated by architects and artists, reveals an antagonism between purpose and value, our need to be comforted by categorization; and the strain of wrestling definitions out of art and architecture. If we were to apply the plumbing distinction seriously, what side of the line would Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfalls be on? What does the lack of a bathroom say about the Arc de Triomphe or the Serpentine Gallery’s pavilions? You can understand the academic compulsion to make distinctions between art and architecture, but the Folly commission for Socrates Sculpture Park and the Architectural League was initiated to straddle disciplines and definitions. What is the difference between an architectural folly and sculpture? Some, and not much.

Our goal from the outset in establishing this commission was to free architects from the usual constraints of practicality and architectural program to enable unexpected results and exploration. Through our Folly competition, the organizations were curious to know what might come from giving young architects an opportunity to manifest their preoccupations, theories, and unfettered desires.

The 2013 Folly winner is tree wood, designed by Toshihiro Oki, Jen Wood, and Jared Diganci. The project was selected from over 150 submissions by a jury of architects and artists, including Michael Arad, Architect, Partner, Handel Architects; Orly Genger, Visual Artist; John Hatfield, Socrates Sculpture Park; Granger Moorhead, Architect, Principal, Moorhead & Moorhead; and Billie Tsien, Architect, Principal, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

This feature highlights the winning proposal, which was completed during a residency at Socrates over several months. tree wood was on view at the sculpture park from May 12, 2013 through March 31, 2014. The feature also explores the four finalists of the 2013 competition as well as some of the overarching themes of the proposals reviewed by the jury. For related content, including an interview with last year’s winner, click here

Folly is directed jointly by Elissa Goldstone, Exhibition Program Manager, Socrates Sculpture Park, working with Anne Rieselbach, Program Director and Ian Veidenheimer, Program Associate, the Architectural League of New York. Former Special Projects Director Gregory Wessner organized the initial phase of the competition.

Published: April 1, 2013. Updated: July 1, 2013.