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 entrants 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 Matt Ragazzo identifies themes that emerged among this year’s Folly submissions and highlights a number of proposals deemed noteworthy by the jury. Read more about this year’s Folly here.
These three entries incorporate either (or both) strong site narratives or elements of participatory design—moving beyond the realm of architectural object with compelling stories or concepts. The entries reconceptualize site through an expansion or grounding of place or through utilizing non-architectural elements embedded within an overarching narrative.
The eloquence of Light Box by Chat Travesio is not only found in the project’s simple shed-like wood and polycarbonate structure that radiates a soft glow at night, but also in Travesio’s insightful approach to program and place. Travesio believes “understanding the primary user of a space through conversation and engagement opportunities allows one to be more empathic to their needs and creates a stronger emotional and social connection between the user and the space.” Embracing Socrates’ mission, Travesio fuses educational programming and participatory design by transforming young people into makers during the construction process.
Poly-Functional-Folly by OOAA explores the relationship between object and site. A monolithic wall made from wooden railroad ties stretches along the park’s entry, screening the view and allowing for a play between light and shadow. The shadow that the wall produces extends into the park and adds a third dimension to the structure, creating a new space. As such, the use of a monumental wall and “third space” allows for Poly-Functional-Folly to transform its relationship with the education corridor and park.
In addition to an expansion of the proposed education corridor, R.A.M.’s The Pliable Parthenon prompts a compelling conceptual dialogue between history and place through formal references to the Parthenon. The proposal “replicates the exact proportion of the [Parthenon’s] main façade, but quickly subverts this homage both materially and formally.” Extending towards the front of the park, the pavilion also “corrects the inherent folly of the original model” through the addition of a roof, and holistically addresses the site through an expansion of program.