This project expands on the sensorial installation developed in another project for Mario Gandelsonas’ studio on Brazil, channeling its effects into a system of floating plastic capsules ranging in size from 10 ft to 50 ft across, which are connected by flexible plastic tubes 5 ft in diameter. Both the capsules and the tubes are made from 4”-thick polyurethane.
Each capsule is initially tethered to the basin of the Billings Reservoir, on the outskirts of São Paulo, and slowly collects water in an upper compartment. As the sun causes the water to evaporate, filtering out all contaminants, the distilled vapor condenses along the inner surface of the capsule and trickles through a series of tubes down into the capsule’s lower compartment. Once each capsule fills to a predetermined capacity, its tethers release. Eventually all of the capsules float half-submerged in the water as a network of fully inhabitable pools.
The project is, in one sense, hydrophobic—given the prohibitive cost and impracticality of treating the entire reservoir, this project instead seals participants off from the contaminated water in filtered chambers. Rather than disregarding the site, however, the capsules are programmed to foster an environment of ambiguous interaction with the water, playing on tensions between survival and recreation, clean and contaminated, contact and skins. The project modifies the notion of the ‘water park’, directing participants away from fast, spectacular attractions and towards a slower engagement with water.
Ultimately, this project questions the notion that the sudden deployment of water infrastructure — especially for recreation — is always in the best interest of the community it serves. Given the susceptibility of the water park to neglect and disrepair, not to mention the potential of disrupting communities through heavy-handed formal expression, the capsules emerge from the water in conversation with both the street and the shoreline over several months or years. In the tradition of the Neo-Concrete group, this project challenges the spatial dimension of architecture at the urban scale.
Project developed for Mario Gandelsonas’ F’14 studio at the Princeton University School of Architecture.