Folly is a competition co-sponsored by The Architectural League and Socrates Sculpture Park that invites emerging architects and designers to propose contemporary interpretations of the architectural folly. This fifth iteration of the competition asked architects and designers to address a compelling and much needed utilitarian project to improve the park’s appearance and use of its outdoor education area. The inversion from Folly to Function coincides with the 30th year anniversary of the park. Folly attracted over 200 submissions in 2016.
Below, the League’s Marta Elliott discusses the two finalists in this year’s competition. Read more about this year’s Folly here.
Jewel Box by Mary Frisbee, Samuel Sutcliffe, and Seffi Min rides the line between architecture and didactic sculpture. The proposal reduces the substantial frame of the existing education structure to a “structural metal grid” with a new roof of corrugated metal panels. The designers interrupt the roof with a protruding V shape that channels water to feed an aquaponics system below, uniting art and function. The project proposes to educate about the possibilities of nature with “an urban sculpture that connects the individual with the cycles of nature through the elements.” Structural and sheltering, the roof is an exposition on “the connections to our resources—water, food, electricity” that are all generated and collected by Jewel Box. The project designers “feel it is imperative that this generation is exposed to the dynamics and processes that allow the use of the described resources.”
John Bassett and Jonathan Benner’s proposal, Repeating Archways, employs a series of “identical wooden frames that pivot and repeat down the length of the deck” with a simple, practical, and durable roof made of standard lumber and PVC panels. Economical and efficient, this structure is both functional and rhythmically dynamic. The repeating units compose a cadence that sets the stage and unifies the education corridor at Socrates. This entry’s diagrammatic form, articulated by means of repeating modules, demonstrates a deep understanding of structure. Diagrams, modules, and repetition permeated this year’s entries, and the jury identified Repeating Archways as the strongest in this category.