Quick Project Description
Continuous Contour is a folly built from one single 1050’ length of rope – sourced in Long Island City and hearkening back to the area’s historical role as a center of nautical manufacturing – as well as a series of guide wires and steel rings. Evoking a contour drawing where the pencil never leaves the paper, this rope becomes a continuous, eccentric line that winds its way through a series of metal rings to transform into a phantom geometrical construction, capturing space with visible boundary lines while still remaining imminently temporal and open. The folly proposal comments on architecture’s attempt to force order on the natural world by highlighting the impractical tension between the rigid, recognizable cubic forms and the seemingly chaotic guide wires that connect to the naturally occurring trees that circumnavigate the site. This forms a contradictory structure that is both delicate – being able to sway along with trees and grasping hands – but also completely in tension and dependent on each node to remain standing.
The folly Continuous Contour is constructed from a number of locally manufactured and off the shelf materials. Long Island City was once a hub of naval construction and the area still retains some capabilities for producing nautical components, cotton rope primary amongst them. This became the basis for the design proposal and the main feature becomes a single, continuous line of dyed rope facilitating an investigation into the latent possibilities inherent in the material’s strength for flexibility and manipulation.
Architecture school begins with drawing, and one of the first methods taught in the development of a young architect is the contour drawing method, essentially a line drawing that traces the outline of a given subject – a simple means of emphasizing mass and volume on a flat two-dimensional surface. In Continuous Contour the subject becomes spactial and is manifested in a three-dimensional construction that forms the outline of a number of cubic forms that tumble about the sculpture park appearing to take flight as they near the water line. A canvas or plastic tarp is affixed to one side of the forms to potentially provide shade or a projection surface while further emphasizing the geometry. The single approx. 1000’ strand of the rope winds through a series of metal rings, back in on itself and then away again to form a unified decorative agglomeration. The eye can delight in following the eccentric path of the rope, tracing its voyage as it weaves through the park, transforming from a material that connotes a coiled, resting mass into a temporal folly that is now slightly recognizable as something structural. The folly defines space, both within its individual forms and within the park, defining zones of play and contemplation. However, as the folly is merely an outline – the graphical representation of space constructed from a linear material – it is inherently empty and creates a dramatic tension from the play between the two contradictory notions of void and outline.
The rigid, recognizably intentional geometric forms are held in place by a delicate system of guide wires attached to the park’s trees and a minimal number of ground anchoring points. The guide wires are constructed from flexible steel rope and a number of standard connection systems, amongst them stainless steel rings and carabiners. The folly comments on architecture’s ambition to manipulate forced, ordered forms out of the chaos of nature by emphasizing the seemingly chaotic web of guide wires required to stabilize the cubic volumes that appear to hover above the ground. The overall structure of the folly becomes delicate in one sense, in that it gently sways in the breeze in tune with the supporting trees, while the effects of someone tugging on the rope on one end are felt and seen as a rippling throughout the overall system. The folly is then at once elaborate and extravagant, necessitating a detailed site survey for tree locations and a complex system of guidewires in tension to form the node points, while it is also built from modest, common materials.
After the exhibition ends all of the materials can be easily reused and recycled into a number of alternate uses. Due to its softness to the touch, cotton rope is frequently used in railings and could become woven together in a net or other shape to make a wonderful addition to a number of city playgrounds. Likewise, steel rope is frequently used for railings and other tensile applications, but can be easily melted down and recycled.