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 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.
Four proposals re-conceived shelter by activating the roofs of their structures in a way that stood out to the jury.
The Hovering Garden proposal by Fabian Busse, Leon Lai, Leo Mulvehill, Nico Schlapps, and Eric Tan conceals a complex program under a floating garden-roof that, “allows nature to defy gravity.” This functional folly creates shelter by lifting a slice of the park above the heads of its visitors and caretakers that is “kept afloat and nurtured by those who would use it.” The garden-roof is both otherworldly and very much of this earth; it is both participatory and has a life of its own.
Bow Tie, by Nicholas Imperial, Matthew Streeter, Jin Huang, Sam Pepper, and Ian Mancini, focuses on the means and methods of construction with an emphasis on clarity. The project is designed so “users can change the nature of their enclosure themselves by constructing or deconstructing their shelter” through moveable wall panels. Additionally, Bow Tie’s twisting roof plane collects rainwater. Structurally simple yet visually active, this folly proposal foregrounds shelter as something active rather than permanent.
Primarily concerned with shading, Under the Cloud by Xiaofei Shen and Yiqing Zhao employs a circular plan that “introduces a more concentrated and effective communication mode.” Supported by a light open structure, Under the Cloud relies on its pleated roof for shelter to allow for “beautiful panoramic views like trees, riverbank, sculptures.” By day, this lightweight roof is reminiscent of a cloud; at dusk, it becomes a lantern floating above its inhabitants. While the entrants identify its purpose is to shade park-goers, this proposal’s seemingly diaphanous roof also provides substantial cover.
The Flexiroof project by Noah Wadden is comprised of large 10×20 flexitanks supported by a slender structure. Intended to shield from the elements during inclement weather and light a pathway for inhabitants at night, this proposal raises the pillow form to create a billowy shelter. Wadden explains that “what seems to be a balloon, perhaps the most ethereal of structures, provides shelter and a sense of interiority.” Under this canopy of undulating pillows, direct light is diffused through the translucent roof that is supported by an otherwise open framework.