Since afterparty's opening last week, the public reception has been rousing and controversial, from cries of 'Godzilla's furball' and 'Snuffleupagus' to online cartoons depicting it as a haphazard collection of bottles and pots. As said in the architects' official proposal, the intention was to honor and reflect economic realities, and the need to "look for new promiscuities, new methods of design, after the party of a sort of high-formalism which has dominated academic discourse." (The name 'afterparty' is evidently a two-pronged metaphor -- referring to academia as well as in a social sense, by creating the relaxed environment typical after a more frenetic main venue.)
While the formalists balked at this step towards 'primitivism,' the eco camp raised an eyebrow at the installation's environmental claims. "The project proposes to deal with issues of sustainability and a return to basics, working towards climate altering through passive means," explained Barry Bergdoll, the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA.
The installation is made from a lightweight aluminum frame of recyclable parts clad in a weave, and the chimneys champion the stack- effect cooling system. A breeze is created when air cooled by the courtyard's existing concrete walls (thermal mass) is drawn up through the chimneys via induction. (The stack effect is simply a natural form of ventilation driven by buoyancy, which occurs when warm air rises and cooler air comes in at lower levels to replace it.)
The shaggy thatched geo-textile sourced from Indonesia, with its raw, visceral qualities is possibly most perplexing, yet also quite alluring. Why this much of this material? How is it an appropriate critique on the economic climate? Is it a thoughtful departure from modernity, or ambiguously off-mark reactionary response?
Regardless of the criticism, if MOS's goal was to provide summer shade and get people talking, it has certainly done that.
Besides writing and designing, Tiffany Chu's passions include photography, cartography, and all things Scandinavian.