The Birds and the Bees

SOCRATES SCULPTURE PARK // QUEENS, NEW YORK // JANUARY 2016

For whom does this year’s Folly function? 

A variety of users: neighbors of Socrates Park, children enrolled in Guerilla Storytime or LeAP, tourists and park aficionados. But these clients of architecture belong to the same earth-dominant, predator species: homo sapiens-the species that is self-knowing, yet that does not know its effect on the earth. The Birds and the Bees embraces architectural clients from among multiple species local to the site—especially the endangered species nearby Socrates Park, such as the Carolina Wren and solitary bees. For architects, the facts of Anthropocene life are this: architecture should address multiple species, enabling their existences and their co-existences with humans. 

The Birds and the Bees is a pavilion comprised of a rooftop rainwater catchment and a wall system. One face is tiled in 2’x 2’ hand-cast cement panels, designed to accommodate both small local cavity-nesting birds (Carolina wren, black-capped chickadee) and cavity-dwelling solitary bees.

Roof system: The roof of the pavilion is a rain catchment system made of plastic sheet. In addition to serving as a covering for the open-air education workspace, the sloped surface of the polycarbonate “greenhouse” plastic roof collects and channels rain into conduits within the wall of the pavilion. 

Wall system: The exterior façade of the pavilion is lined with hand-cast cement panels, the interiors of which have been designed in collaboration with the Cornell Ornithology Lab, to house specific bird and bee species. The interior face of the pavilion walls is lined with rugged, water-proof plastic sheet that serves as a projection surface for presentations, classes and performances.

In summary, the wall component of the pavilion presents a gridded façade of bird and insect habitation panels at the entry of the education corridor: a façade system that presents a model of building habitat for multiple species, while its interior façade offers a screen for projection of educational material. The Birds and the Bees maintains an educational message, yet makes a visual argument that building to cohabit with other species should be considered among the new facts of life in the Anthropocene period.

Team // Ariane Harrison, Seth Harrison, Stephen Ullman, Arif Javed, Kieran Gillen