Proposal for the “Folly” Architectural Design/Build Competition
organized by the Socrates Sculpture Park and the Architectural League, NY, 2013.

FRAME valorizes the landscape that surrounds. It is a pleasurable enclosure that allows appropriation for playful engagement and contemplation. Following the tradition of the folly, FRAME is programmatically use-less. It seeks to make visible the formal and metaphorical frames that structure our shared sense of reality and spatial experience.

The frame is a dominant reality-structuring device. Our proposal is inspired by Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtman’s Contact (1982) – a film that explores the power of the frame, in painting, architecture and self-reflectively in cinema. The protagonist of the film, a drafting artist, is contracted to produce twelve exterior views of the house and garden in twelve days. The film highlights the multiplicity of the frames: The cinematic frames constructed by the director, the artistic frames carefully constructed by the draftsman, and the frames constructed by the designer of the estate in which the narrative is staged. This film is a testament to the power of frames to define, shape and stand for reality.

Thus, FRAME is defined by two frames, proportioned following the ancient Golden Ratio and the new ‘golden ratio’ of HD, that are oriented toward the Socrates Park’s vista of the East River. The twentieth century was experienced predominantly through TV and its aspect ratio of 4:3, though the most common film-screen aspect ratio remained 16:9, or 1.778, which is close to the ‘divine proportion’ of the Golden Ratio (1.618) and allegedly most pleasing to the human eye. With digital technology, 16:9 came to reign the visual field of the 21st century, not only with HDTV but also other devices of viewing, small and large; e.g., the designs of much of computer gadgetry (iPhones, iPads) through which we are increasingly recording, viewing, and experiencing our external world are mandated by 16:9. Accordingly, an “iPhone” picture of FRAME will reinforce its ordering frame rather than make it invisible. In this case, we propose a folly that is a revealer.

Frame is proposed to be built using 100% reclaimed material, mainly used construction steel and reclaimed mountain climbing ropes. The project is designed to fall within the modest competition budget of $5,000.