• Sunday , 26 May 2019

URCHIN Impossible Circus: an architectural pavilion on the Cornell University Arts Quad

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New York practice CODA have just finished constructing their latest pavilion, URCHIN Impossible Circus, on the Cornell University Arts Quad as part of the Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial
Their Principal Architect Caroline O’Donnell MRIAI is a designer, writer, and educator. She is best known for winning the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program with “Party Wall” which was built at PS1 in 2013, and for two prize winning Europan housing schemes. O’Donnell is the Edgar A. Tafel assistant professor and director of the M.Arch at program Cornell University. She has a B.Arch from Manchester University, England (2000) with a specialization in Bioclimatics and an M.Arch from Princeton University (2004). She has practiced in urban design at KCAP, (Kees Christiaanse Architects and Planners), Rotterdam, on the Groningen Station Plaza, SciencePark Masterplan and Station and other several masterplanning projects, and in both architectural and masterplan design at Eisenman Architects, New York, on the projects: Hamburg Domplatz Library, and Pompei Train Station and Landscape, amongst others.
Built from 500 borrowed plastic chairs, Urchin aims to question the role of the everyday object: from the typical use that ‘affords’ sitting to an aggregation that becomes skin-like: the object’s features are no longer understood in terms of their use (legs, arms, seat) but in terms of their form (spikes, curves, voids) as, due to their rotation away from the ground, they lose their relationship with the human body. Dipping down in response to the statue of AD White, the pavilion allows the seated figure of one of Cornell University’s founders to enter into the (impossible) circus.
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No chairs were harmed in the production of Urchin, and they will be returned to circulation afterwards.  Urchin plays with the question of usefulness and uselessness by the manipulation of the simple chair, and consequently our perception of the chair and the connection between our bodies, the chair’s components and their orientations. The question of use as a primary perceptual phenomenon is a product of James J. Gibson’s Theory of Affordances in his Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. The project aims to provoke the questioning of usefulness and perception from the scale of the individual chair unit to the scale of the pavilion.

Urchin asks us to question our perceptions of everyday objects: namely, the ubiquitous plastic chair. Due to its aggregation and rotation, the object loses its familiar and functional relationship with the human body, so that its other qualities and implications can come to the fore. Urchin plays with the question of usefulness and uselessness by the manipulation of the simple chair, and consequently our perception of the chair and the connection between our bodies, the chair’s components and their orientations. The question of use as a primary perceptual phenomenon is a product of James J. Gibson’s Theory of Affordances in his Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. 

For more information visit http://www.co-da.co/urchin

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