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P.S.1 Purple Haze
GNUFORM Project Statement
MoMA YAP, 2006

Materials: loungers - 1" PVC flexible tubing, fiberglass pools, plywood structural frame, canopy-vinyl mesh fabric
Techniques: CNC Milling, Laser Cutting
Dimensions: 10,000 square feet

Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
‘scuse me while I kiss the sky

-Jimi Hendrix 1967

Purple Haze
Named for Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 classic Purple Haze, our project creates altered sensory states similar to those suggested in his lyrics and the mythology surrounding this song. Primarily corporeal rather than conceptual, our proposal produces these altered states with vast fields of potent colors combined with pronounced optical, tactile, auditory, olfactory, and even taste effects.

The paragraphs below describe what the project is, what it does, and why it does what it does.

What It Is
Purple Haze is stratified into several horizontal layers that behave like oceanic currents: each is distinct yet relies upon its neighbors for support and differentiation. These layers are listed below from the ground up:

Toroidal Loungers and Wading Pools
Approximately 18 feet in diameter, these roughly circular loungers provide ample room for sitting and lying about. Constructed of pliant, green-tinted pvc tubing over plywood ribs, they provide comfort and visual softness. The loungers tend to gravitate toward one another, smooshing at the edges and congealing smaller groups of people into larger crowds. Their centers are pulled down to produce wading pools, each tied to the next under the existing gravel with hoses to provide continuous water circulation through the network. This motion keeps the pools fresh and creates visual and auditory stimulation. A single incandescent lamp within each pool shines upward to illuminate the thickened atmosphere and create caustics on the underside of the canopy (see below.)

Fog
Low-hanging and heavily atmospheric, clouds of fog emanate from nozzles running between loungers where they are most deformed to emphasize the pressure of mutual attraction. This ultra-fine mist cools the masses of bodies draped over the loungers and radiates light, especially at night. Further, in still air fog forms discernible clouds that mingle with the other, generally rounded forms of the loungers and crowds. A cosmos of gently undulating, ovoid masses emerges as the project’s dominant organizational scheme at the ground plane.

Clusters and Crowds (Biomass)
The nature of groups of people, both small clusters and larger crowds, informs the morphology of Purple Haze at all levels. Similarly, the project informs and deforms crowd behavior through pronounced atmospherics and invitingly open forms. In this way a feedback loop is created in which the crowd itself is building material, vital to the completion of the space. And why not use the crowd as material? After all, it’s free…We need the crowd: the crowd for its flowing mass. The crowd for its roiling unpredictability. The crowd for its matted entanglement. The crowd for its heat and moisture. The crowd for its distributed mood and unified pulse. The crowd for its candor and honesty. The crowd for its life.

Mist and Rain
Purple haze all around… Imagine the growling feedback of Hendrix’s guitar as he sings that line. Such is the swirling, purple haze of mist suspended in the air, cooling the unified skin of the crowd during each Saturday’s Warm Up. A blanket of mist produced by overhead emitters thickens the atmosphere such that it becomes both visible and tangible (and even olfactory if we scent the water with the essence of various flowers.) Two separate plumbing infrastructures create two distinct environmental experiences: mist and rain. The triangular gallery contains mist that grows from light to heavy as one moves northward. The rectangular gallery contains intermittent rain except over the loungers, bar, and perimeter. Visitors may engage this room to varying degrees, from passive observation at the edges to playing in the rainfall (umbrellas labeled “P.S.1” are provided.)

Canopy
s’cuse me while I kiss the sky… An extensive canopy creates shade and organizes all of the elements described above into a coherent order. Conceived as a continuous surface, it spreads across the majority of both galleries and pinches through the doorway at their interface. Longitudinal pleats produce an easy, elegant compression and extension and generate a variegated visual rhythm. The ridges of the pleats align with suspension cables above and plumbing below. Constructed of long bands of perforated, vinyl-coated mesh fabric, the canopy provides constant shade and blocks 80% of UV light. The band of each pleat is also perforated at a larger scale, creating shafts of light through the thickened atmosphere and dancing spots of light on the ground, walls and loungers. The circular cuts of these holes are only partially cut, leaving the material to hang down and flutter. In constant motion, the fuzzy underside of the canopy blurs into the shifting atmosphere below. The translucent vinyl’s purple and magenta coloration casts a purplish hue into the space.

Cables
Steel tension cables run discreetly overhead at the same meter as the pleated canopy. Both canopy and waterlines are suspended from these cables, eliminating the interference of columnar support in the space.

What It Does
Purple Haze is a sandwich of sensory stimuli compressed such that each one commingles with the others to form distinctly synesthetic effects – conditions in which two or more stimuli mix to create a third, mixed state. Colors are “felt,” physical sensations are “seen,” smells are “tasted,” and so on. This interplay creates a multivalent atmosphere that stimulates the individual body and, by extension, the body of the crowd in continually changing ways. The shifting crowd then stirs the atmosphere and soon each has swallowed the other. Distinctions between user and space fall away in a thickened, shifting bed of enlivened matter.

Why It Does What It Does
Our project aims to please in truest sense of the phrase. The creation of pleasure of the senses is paramount, thus our emphasis on how things feel and how the look of things feels, rather than how things look. As waves of sensory stimuli pass through a crowd, individual bodies congeal into cohesive forms. Through shared pleasure comes a contemporary form of community.

Ultimately, this way of thinking leads to an architecture of effective atmospheres. We are ever more a species that thrives on immediate, sensual stimulation and material fact. It is not what it is so much as how it feels, and one of the things we feel most potently in architecture is its atmosphere. Therefore, maintaining and extending the public role of architecture demands more than that it be merely looked at; it must produce a saturated experience such that it clings to the skin of the people moving through it.

Project team:
Ramiro Diazgranados, Kelly Bair, Adam Fure, Michael Loverich, Jeffrey Sipprell, Michael Leaveck, Carolyn Telgard, David Pierson, Paul Locke, Liesl Schaper, Shawna Krantz, Kyle Miller, Marcin Szef

Project renderings:
Alexander Pena De Leon, Noriaki Hanao

Project consultants:
Anders Carlson, GMS Engineering
James Garland, Fluidity