Having designed a pavilion for a three-day event and a memorial required to stand for at least 200 years, Kevin Carmody and Andrew Groarke have wrestled with that most slippery of human constraints: time. Confronting such extremes on the scale of project life spans has underlined for the London-based architects the need to find appropriate solutions to questions of materials, construction, iconography, and context. So for the 72-hour-long installation they built at the 2010 Milan Furniture Fair, they used 12,000 red threads lit from above, emphasizing the ephemeral nature of the piece. But for the 7 July Memorial in London’s Hyde Park (honoring the 52 people killed in the terrorist bombings in the city’s subway system in 2005), they created a small forest of 52 stainless-steel columns that projects an image of strength and permanence.
“We’re interested in the friction that’s generated from working on very different kinds of assignments — from pop-ups to memorials,” says Carmody. “Ultimately, though, each project comes down to a series of value judgments,” adds Groarke, referring to decisions affecting the type and cost of materials, the construction process, spatial relationships, and other aspects of design. For example, the architects decided they would use only “borrowed” materials for a dining pavilion in London that would stay up for just three weeks. So instead of creating waste in the form of elements used once then discarded, they designed a structure made with standard scaffolding poles that can be used again and again. “Buildings need to respond to their particular circumstances,” states Carmody. “They have responsibilities to the site, the brief, the users, and the larger context.”