DENSITY FIELDS Materials and Applications Installation Silver Lake, CA 2007
This "extreme cantilever" built of aluminum and polypropylene rope hovered over the courtyard of Materials & Applications (M&A) in Silver Lake, Los Angeles from October of 2007 through February of 2008. Defying classification as either sculpture or architecture, the piece flexes with a gesture that extends lines beyond the small courtyard, seeming to pierce buildings and features in the neighborhood.
The design intention was in balancing a set of structural ideas, the programmatic needs of the space, and the desire to use basic geometries to create a rich spatial experience within the space itself. The primary structural question posed by the piece is, "What makes the idea of using lines different in terms of their structural properties?" The idea addresses tensile properties, thereby limiting the structural possibilities, but also allows for a more specific way of designing that exploits tensile strength. This line of inquiry led to a structural principle that utilizes a dense field of lines. The installation consists of two basic materials: (1) an aluminum frame extending up from the ground and out into the space, and (2) a series of fine, tensioned ropes pulling the cantilever in the opposite direction, forcing it to hover above the ground.
The development of the project was the negotiation of two primary objectives: (1) the conception of a spatial idea involving the accumulation of dense fields of material overlap. With this idea in mind, one priority became the insistence on a delicate and inexpensive material choice; (2) the creation of a three-dimensional geometry extracted from the surrounding neighborhood. Those geometries where first extracted through a series of exuberant models that extend lines from major points throughout the neighborhood, including major building openings, doors, windows and roof lines. In capturing the spirit of those three-dimensional site investigations, the architects ultimately proposed a cantilever that relies structurally on an elegant combination of tensile and compressive members, maintaining both the spatial and geometrical intent.