AB|BA (MOMA PS1)

Installation

2019

For our nomination and submission for the MOMA PS1 entry, AB|BA was developed from our design research with advanced concrete. The installation is made with a series of surfaces that are twisted to make undulating geometries arrayed into a dome.

“Can you dig (twist) it?”
AB|BA brings the party back to the age of disco, with its psychedelic and vibrant affects, and conceptualizes the party atmosphere from the inside-out with only a 2cm thin, undulating veil of concrete that forms a tantalizing and spatial disco ball – an unexpected twist on a temporary structure. As people dance, water mists, and intoxicating reflections from inside the ball radiate out; the entire PS1 courtyard & concert stage light up like a 70s disco floor!

The Ecology of the Disco Ball
Small punctures in the surfaces allow for light and shadows to penetrate the Disco Ball as people dance inside. Vertical tubes embedded between elements cools down the concrete surfaces while creating a misty affect. All the while, a micro-climate forms with the combination of the concrete’s mass, the misty water, and the wind currents passing through larger punctures at the top that creates a cooling effect as hot air is pulled upwards; thus, cooling down the space and the visitors on hot days. Later in the evening, the mass of the concrete that soaked up heat throughout the day, slowly radiates warmth in the late night when its cooler as people lounge around on the AB| ‘pop-up’ seats.

‘AB| ‘
The AB| configuration stems from mirroring two undulating, S-shaped concrete elements and stacking them ‘AB,’ then ‘BA’, to form a ‘dome’ with a large oculus. According to ARUP, consulting on the project, tension rings between the top and bottom of each mirrored element will provide stability with steel brackets connecting them to resist buckling. The precast elements will be fabricated offsite in the weeks prior to installation and then stacked and shipped on a flatbed truck where they will be installed on site. One element, measuring approximately 60cm x 1m x 2cm thick, is light enough for two people to pick up and handle but a boom lift will be needed to hoist them into their final position.

The Pop-Up
The AB| undulating forms are conceived from a process of making. The fabrication technique, coined ‘Pop-Up’ (see digital portfolio for fabrication videos), allows us to bend+twist+crease+drape concrete into a complex geometry by taking one simple, flat formwork and popping it into multiple final forms. The process uses high-strength concrete comprised of very little cement with high quantities of recycled waste products, such as fly ash and silica fume, as well as glass beads and steel fibers for strength, lightness and thinness. Our collaborator, CEMEX, the second largest concrete manufacturer in the world, will provide the material as an in-kind donation and contribute to the final production of the pre-cast elements and shipping them to the site.

Sustainability
The advancements in high-performance concrete has led to a more sustainable material because it uses recycled industrial waste products to significantly reduce cement content which, in turn, reduces CO2 emissions. High-performance concrete is also half the weight of typical concrete which results in much thinner and lighter structures. This all leads to innovative fabrication techniques, such as ‘Pop-Up,’ that requires very little formwork, for even complex geometries; thus, reducing costs, time, and material to provide a structure that is both beautiful and environmentally responsive. And as for the afterlife of the disco ball, the steel tension rings will be recycled and the concrete will be brought to a local crushed stone supplier to use as aggregate for future projects in New York City.