Folly 2015

2015. January

Architect : Simplex Architecture + Deayung Kim


Architecture is a relentless process of problem solving through research, analysis, conceptualization, and critical evaluation. It requires the understanding of culture and place, and involves a collaboration of prac­titioners from a variety of disciplines to realize the architect’s aesthetic intent through rational analyses. In architecture, balanced solutions for structure and function are important. However in formative arts such as sculpture, the artist’s intent plays a more significant role than it does in architecture.

Both architecture and sculpture need to resist their own weight to stand on the ground. The nature of Architecture follows certain rules, limitations, and fulfills specific functions. Because the primary purpose is to provide shelter or a space for people, there is a vast array of complexities which must be dealt with. Life span and permanence also requires certain safety and structural standards which should be followed. Conversely, sculptural works of art—though requiring structural stability to stand, do not necessarily adhere to such limitations. Temporal structures are often created in such cases, providing the flexibility to be relocated after exhibitions. 

Our project investigates the structural and tectonic differences between architecture and sculpture, while discovering intersections between the two fields. BALANSCAPE is an architectural folly that provides people with shelter and a viewing spot which can also stand on its own, like a sculptural piece of art. 

The traditional method of constructing an architectural building is to build a foundation to provide a base, erect the columns on top of the foundation, and cover the columns with roof. This enables the structure to be very stable while achieving the function of the building. Each component of the building works as key elements to hold the structure. However, sculpture has the tendency to be less concerned with structural limitations and explores different possibilities to realize the artist’s concept. 

Our proposal, BALANSCAPE suggests a new form of structure, different from the traditional column - roof composition. A half sphere is cut into a quadrangular shape, which creates canopy for shading. This curvilinear shaped canopy also implies a gesture of traditional Asian-styled roofs, which has a visual effect of the structure looking lighter than it actually is. The centroid of the quadrangle will be the center point of the structure where it meets the ground. This enables the structure to maintain its balance on all four sides and stand on its own. Although it is a self-supporting structure, the center of the structure will be connected to the ground for safety. Steel wire ropes will be linked from the edge of the canopy to the ground in order to provide people with a semi-enclosed space as well as a means to prevent shaking of the structure. 

The primary elements of the structure form the overall curvilinear shape. It consists of 3/4" width and 1' depth, and varying lengths of wood slats. Each wood slat is connected by secondary elements, which is made of plywood. The connection of the primary and secondary elements will be linked by joinery, without any hardware. This is also a sustainable and traditional Asian construction method.

The primary elements emphasize a linearity of the wood slats. It can be conceived as a linear element but also as a surface from a specific point of view. The depth of the primary elements cast shadows depending on the time of day. The shadow changes its shape as the day progresses; sometimes as a line, and sometimes as a surface. The widths of the primary elements are thin, which makes the structure light and easy to shape. In order to complement the structural strength, the depth of the element is deep enough to stabilize the structure. The edges of the element are cut by the quadrangular shape, which forms a diagonal line, and sloped to give a sense of unity. Through this sloped edge, the BALANSCAPE has the look of one single surface although it utilizes multiple primary elements.  

The secondary elements not only function as a connection between the primary elements but it also supports the overall structure. They're composed of three pieces. The two side pieces connect with the main elements, while the splice plate in the middle work as a shoring structure between the two side components. The secondary elements vary in position and angle to generate the overall continuous and curved shape. Additionally, each element is composed of the same units in order to simplify the production process.

The tension cable connects the edge of the primary elements to the ground. This not only stabilizes the structure but it also defines the boundary of the BALANSCAPE in order to provide a shelter for the public. These steel wire ropes are placed within certain intervals which provide the semi-enclosure, but it also enables people to move in and out freely. It creates the boundary and simultaneously, blurs the boundary. 

BALANSCAPE consists of lateral bracing (primary elements), and horizontal bracing (secondary elements). Lateral bracing is designed to couple with one another to prevent the separation of members by lateral force. Horizontal bracing is composed of three parts. Each side of the connecting members hook to the main members, and the inner splice plate supports the other members. It is divided into three pieces, in order to prevent the member from breaking, while facilitating the insertion of the members. The hook piece can be inserted into the already combined lateral bracing, and then the middle element can the inserted at the end. Each member on its own may be thin and weak, but the combination of these elements will provide stability for the overall structure. 


Although BALANSCAPE has a cantilevered configuration held from the center, it is structurally balanced from the centroid, thus it is able to maintain its stability. The anchor point in the center with the tension cable on the edges of the structure can increase the stability of the structure. BALANSCAPE can be an intermediary form of architecture and sculpture, which can be realized through the form of balance.