Folly 2015: Torqueing Spheres

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 2015 Folly winner is Torqueing Spheres, designed by Mariana Ibañez and Simon Kim of IK Studio. The project was selected from over 120 submissions by a jury of architects and artists that included David Benjamin (The Living), Leslie Gill (Architect), Sheila Kennedy (Kennedy & Violich Architecture), Alyson Shotz (Artist), and Socrates Sculpture Park Executive Director John Hatfield.

Torqueing Spheres was on view at the sculpture park from May 17 through August 30, 2015. Below is a profile of the winning proposal, a conversation with IK Studio, a process photo essay and interview on the materiality and fabrication, and a look at several notable competition entries.

Folly is directed jointly by Elissa Goldstone, Director of Exhibitions, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Anne Rieselbach, Program Director, The Architectural League of New York.

Published: May 18, 2015; updated July 6 and August 24, 2015.