The Socrates Sculpture Park and Architectural League of New York has announced “Sticks” as this year’s winner for Folly—an annual competition that prompts designers to come up with an architectural venue for a Long Island City, N.Y.’s educational workspace—from New York architecture and design studio Hou de Sousa, co-founded by principals Jia Min Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa.
Following the letter of this year’s theme—“function”—the structure is comprised of a series of pieces of standard-dimension lumber that interconnect along a basic structural frame to create a repetitive, horizontal grid that provides display and storage space for art projects.
Repurposing materials previously utilized in the park, “Sticks” will incorporate scrap pieces stored on site, integrated into the grid that makes up the front-facing walls and roof. The firm says that it specializes in incorporating culturally progressive designs with an environmentally conscious base, an objective that aligns well with Socrates’ mission of sustainability.
Recently, Hou de Sousa also won the “Re-Ball!” competition in Washington, D.C., to reuse the plastic white balls previously used in Snarkitecture’s “The Beach” at the National Building Museum's summer exhibition for a reconfigured installation in the DuPont Underground—a revitalized abandoned trolley station beneath the capital’s famous DuPont Circle that has been turned into a cultural and design venue.
From May through June, Hou and de Sousa will be in the park constructing the venue, an aspect of transparency that is integral to the Folly program.
The competition was started five years ago by Alyson Baker, the former executive director of Socrates Sculpture Park, and Yolande Daniels, founding partner of studioSUMO. Now, it is directed by Jess Wilcox, the park’s director of exhibitions, and Anne Rieselbach, program director at the Architectural League of New York, to explore how architecture and sculpture overlap and how they diverge from each other. The two landed on the concept of a “folly”—or a temporary, decorative structure that has no practical use—to provide an opportunity for young designers to showcase their work in the public realm. This year, however, in addition to showcasing the work of emerging designers, the competition decided to also provide a functional piece to further enhance the park’s public programs, where more than 10,000 students take art classes every year.
The jury members that selected this specific design out of include Jarrod Beck, a 2012 Emerging Artist Fellow of Socrates; Stella Betts, a founder of New York firm LevenBetts; Lauren Crahan, principal of New York's Freecell Architecture; Giuseppe Lignano, principal of Italy and New York's LOT-EK; and John Hatfield, executive director of Socrates Sculpture Park in New York.