Although clouds gathered above MoMA PS1’s courtyard Tuesday, it was evident—despite intermittent showers—nothing would rain on architect Andrés Jaque’s parade. “COSMO is ready to party!” he declared.
COSMO, the winning proposal for this year’s Young Architects Program (YAP) pavilion, was designed by Jaque’s Madrid and New York-based firm, Office for Political Innovation and will serve as a colossal canopy for the museum’s Warm Up concert series, as well as a self-contained ecosystem that will filter 3,000 gallons of water. In short, COSMO is the architectural love child of a disco ball and a science project.
This is the 16th year of PS1’s Young Architects Program, which hosts an annual competition to build a temporary installation in the museum’s courtyard, providing a weekend escape for New Yorkers—“Especially for those who don’t have a house in the Hamptons,” PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach remarked.
At the opening night fete, Jaque, dressed in a powder blue suit (the precise hue of COSMO), pointed toward the structure from PS1’s concrete front steps. For Jaque and his team, the challenge was, he said, “How to work with ordinary materials, and get very precise performance.”
The pavilion consists of twin crop irrigator chassis (imported from Turkey), which support a sinuous network of rubber tubing, suspended from a ring of hula-hoop-shaped piping. At each chassis’ base, are four tanks, filled with murky water and illuminated by multi-colored lights. The water will circulate through COSMO’s network of plastic tubing, suspended plant ecosystems, and become completely purified over the summer months. Next week, special microbes will be introduced to the water and will glow when the water reaches a specific level of purity. The architect estimates the water will be potable in about two weeks.
It took three weeks to assemble COSMO (which was sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies) and about 80 team members—including experts from the Queens Botanical Garden, Arup, BAC engineering, and an algae farm on Long Island.
Jaque hopes that exposing water networks will spark dialogue about global water shortages, without being overly didactic. “COSMO is not designed to solve problems,” Jaque said, “but to show how infrastructure could gain from the architectural tradition.”
As the sun set and the sky cleared, COSMO began to glow, with lights flashing around it from both the structure itself, and from partygoers eagerly uploading photos to Instagram.
You can bust a move with COSMO this Saturday at PS1’s opening Warm Up party. COSMO will be stationed in the museum’s courtyard through September 7, 2015.