"Amphibious Envelope" by The Living

Frogs have an integral role in a new dynamic, air-purifying façade by The Living and the
Ali Brivanlou Lab
Imagine Science Films / The Living and the Ali Brivanlou Lab Frogs have an integral role in a new dynamic, air-purifying façade by The Living and the Ali Brivanlou Lab

At the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, the design event’s Outside Design show featured an experimental façade touting 22 glass tanks fitted with individual habitats for frogs. The tanks, which were a temporary home for the amphibious creatures, were installed in a salvaged structural frame and serve (literally) as a living, breathing air-filtration system. In order to breathe, the frogs needs to resurface every 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the  water's oxygen level. While swimming, their natural rhythms trigger aeration. The installation also responds to the presence of people near the tank, because their breathing depletes the oxygen in the air and causes the frogs to work harder. But don’t fret about the little guys, for they aren’t doing all the work. An occupancy sensor on the façade's interior activates aeration in the tanks when occupancy levels in the area around the tanks reaches a certain point. The installations' makers David Benjamin, founder and principal at The Living, which was acquired by Autodesk in June of 2014, and Ali Brivanlou, head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology, at the Rockefeller University, this type of construction could be used for future residences.

"Black Lake" by the Living, at the "Björk" retrospective in the Museum of Modern Art by Klaus Biesenbach and Björk

Inside the Black Lake experience, a part of the Björk retrospective at the MoMA, which opens on March 8.
Courtesy The Living Inside the Black Lake experience, a part of the Björk retrospective at the MoMA, which opens on March 8.

A collaborative endeavors that took three years to realize, this multidisciplinary exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) recounts the 20-year career of the Icelandic musician’s work with 3D-printed mannequins modeled from her body while donning some of her most iconic outfits, and a site-specific, two-story structure built within the museum’s Marron Atrium. Within the lower level of the latter portion, visitors will find themselves in an immersive multimedia space playing a music video for "Black Lake," which the structure takes it's name from, off Bjork’s latest album "Vulnicura," released in January 2015. The 10-minute music video is the direct inspiration for the design of the human-scale structure, which is meant to be the human embodiment of the song. A 42-iteration effort that took nearly a year to perfect, the designers had to consider a range of variables. First, they had to accommodate the shifting volume of museum goers throughout the day. They also had to ensure that the 41-foot-6-inch-by-25-foot room corresponded to every second of the song, which they achieved by configuring a topological map comprising 6,000 unique felt cones cut from 1,6000 square feet of black felt that was then hand-stitched together to create an isolated performance venue.

“As If It Were Already Here” by Janet Echelman

Janet Echelman Boston
Melissa Henry

Boston was given more than 17 acres of free public space by way of ridding the city of the Central Artery (I-93), an elevated six-line highway, in The Big Dig, completed in 2008. As part of a public space revitalization effort, and a way to nudge the citizens to take advantage of the greenspace, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy commissioned Massachusetts artist Janet Echelman to bring her work to the public. The design, which won a 2013 competition, feautres a 600-foot-long mesh net that weighs in at 1 ton and connects to three nearby high-rise buildings in order to suspend 365 feet. Its colors and shape are responsive to the area, which allude to the bright, red rust underneath the retired highway, and the Tri-Mountain, or the three mountains that determined the city's infrastructure all the way back to the 17th century. After dark, 32 individual LED lights respond to the net's natural movements, illuminating the sculpture’s form.

UNBUILT by Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Students

Coming in strong as Design Miami’s first student pavilion, the annual event’s committee selected the a group of Harvard GSD student designers from a pool of 32 academic contenders to design the event's entry pavilion. The construction, which has traditionally gone to an emerging architecture firm (last year’s went to New York firm Snarkitecture), consists of a intersecting, grid-patterned metal canopy adorned with pink architectural models submitted by over 200 students which are then individually staked upon the vertical planes. The team chose these subjects, offered up by all of the disciplines within the Boston university’s graduate design program, as a means of promoting their conceptual schoolwork, much of which will never be realized.

2015 Serpentine Pavilion by SelgasCano

SelgasCano, "Serpentine Pavilion 2015," London.
NAARO SelgasCano, "Serpentine Pavilion 2015," London.

Madrid firm SelgasCano, overseen by principals Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano, designed this year’s iteration of the annual commission by London’s Serpentine Gallery. The multicolored, winding tunnels that comprised the cohesive structure was swathed in multiple sheets of ETFE fabric-and-webbing panels, and featured a café in the middle. It also offered multiple entrances, each giving visitors a different experience in travel, views, and range of colors. To make it more dynamic, the designers varied the exterior materials from iridescent panels to woven straps. For those unfamiliar with the firm’s work, it's key to note that the two most prominent themes within their portfolio are bright colors and injecting fun. When Selgas was interviewed by ARCHITECT in June about his work on the pavilion, he said that the secret to the firm's success is “good people and having fun in the things that” they do.

"COSMO" by Andrés Jaque

Miguel de Guzman

As the 17th rendition of MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program series, the Spanish architect’s answer to the annual call was a bespoke installation comprising several irrigation pipes and plants fixed onto mobile, metal spokes. As the centerpiece of the New York venue’s summer concert lineup, “Warm Up,” it also provides shade and seating for concert-goers. Furthermore, the function of the object addresses the environmental concern of clean water made available to underserved areas, citing a statistic published by the United Nations stating that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s countries will live in “water-stressed conditions.” As a prototypical example of how to alleviate these areas, the temporary installation (which can be duplicated again if need be) can purify around 3,000 gallons of water in a four-day process.

A previous version of this article stated that Echelman's sculpture "As If It Were Already Here," was on display at Washington, D.C.'s Renwick Gallery. This piece is not, but "1.8," another woven piece, is.