If the Shed has proved anything, it’s that kinetic architecture is here to stay in a big way. Of course, one could argue that the DS+R and Rockwell Group behemoth is hardly the first project to feature large-scale, moveable external elements, but it is the first to tackle the concept at the grandiose scale that an urban environment like New York demands. What’s more, the Shed’s sliding shell is unique in that its movements are determined by an individual artist’s desires for the space. The artist’s subjective ability to shape the institution’s size and form at whim introduces an intriguing notion about the future of urban architecture. Will responsive architecture be the city’s new paradigm? As we grow more and more accustomed to hyper-personalized digital spaces, will we naturally demand the same of the physical realm?
A new installation from Studio INI mediates on these questions, albeit at a much smaller scale. Located at A/D/O by MINI’s outdoor courtyard, founder Nassia Inglessis’s debuts her first U.S. kinetic installation, Urban Imprint, to start a dialogue about architecture’s ability to mediate our need for personal expression in a static urban environment. Visitors are able to physically reshape Urban Imprint by simply walking over the installation’s steel-spring-supported floor. With each footfall, a series of pulleys is activated, physically lifting Urban Imprint’s ceiling away from the viewer’s head. The effect results in an undulating, cocoonlike installation that responds to a viewer’s movement, form, and choices.
Read more: 10 Questions With… Nassia Inglessis
“In cities, we are so often adapting to the physical constraints of a predefined plan, as if poured into a vessel of concrete and glass” Inglessis explains. “I wanted to explore what it would look like to create a more symbiotic and natural relationship between us and our built environment. The goal of Urban Imprint is to explore the potential of a highly responsive urban space; one that I hope can allow its visitors to feel present and empowered through their own unique imprint.”
Urban Imprint also exemplifies Studio INI’s fascination with digital tools and unique material techniques. The steel-spring floor was made with computation design and digital fabrication tools, such as laser cutting. The pliable yet sturdy skin was produced through a combination of concrete and rubber. She explored these same concepts in a more linear format with her London Design Biennale 2018 installation, Disobedience. That work consisted of a 56-foot-long corridor with CNC-cut, recycled plastic walls that flexed and morphed around a moving human body.
The location for the installation’s NYCxDesign debut feels especially appropriate, considering A/D/O’s design-centered mission statement and its 2018 NYCxDesign exhibition, United Visual Artists’ Spirit of the City.
“We are thrilled to be working with Studio INI and giving the work of Nassia Inglessis a platform during New York’s most important design week,” A/D/O’s global managing director Nate Pinsley says. “Her vision is one that uses technology as a tool to enhance our humanity. Our programming has always aimed to inspire debate about the future of design and we could not imagine a more perfect partner.”
Urban Imprint is free and open to the public. It will remain open at A/D/O until September 2, 2019. Check out Urban Imprint's website for events, press, and visitor information.