The Fibrous Art Bridge was chosen as Special Selection for the Emerging New York Architects International Ideas Competition (http://www.enyacompetitions.org).
The Fibrous Art Bridge envisions to turn the High Bridge into an art complex that can house exhibitions displaying the entire process of art production-from its inception to its final form. Anyone can appreciate the glistening display of a finished art piece but it is a rare encounter to come face to face with the struggling moments of an artists’ hands when the sculpture was just barely beginning to take form. It will be a highly inspiring moment for the audience who have been invited to appreciate the full stages of the artists’ touch through the crossing of this bridge. On this bridge, the process of making art, therefore, becomes an act of art in itself. This art is then displayed to the public. The way in which we experience art will transform completely, for the audience will soon throw away the old habits (of glancing at a single art piece and proceeding to skim a paragraph of description written next to it) but rather learn new ways to engage in art, by sharing the profound understanding experienced by the artists in their moments of creation. The local neighbors who cross the bridge on a regular basis can witness this very art of creating, and perhaps the excitement of participating in such an event will spark dialogues between both the fellow bystanders and the very artists- which is a greatly beneficial activity for the community as well as for the artist society. Through these regular interactions and conversations and full participation in the creative activities, the bridge will seek to draw people together in hopes of physically and culturally reconnnecting Manhattan and Bronx.
This rather untraditional way of experiencing art is spatially achieved through the art pods. The artists work inside pods that are floating and visible through the permeable fibrous structures, which allow the viewers to get a view of the aritsts’ ongoing works from both below and above. Once an artist is finished with the work, the pod is opened to the public so that they can enter it and interact more closely with the final production. After the public viewing is over, the pod can be removed from the structure and placed elsewhere in the city. Other artists can start their work in the available empty pods. The pods can be made in various sizes and shapes, meeting the specifications to best fit the project it is housing. Attached to each pod is a viewing port, embedded into the floors and sticking out towards the bridge gallery and hovering over the walking surface. These ports are more visible from the main pathway and the artists can therefore select parts of the process that they desire to be more exposed to the public.
This design, proposing an exhibtion of the evolving processes of art production, is highly symbolic of the evolution of the bridge in itself. The High Bridge was first built as an aqueduct using mansory arches in 1848. Such structural system to carry water best fit the time, since the tunneling technologies were not as advanced. The bridge continued to evolve structually; in the 1920s, several of the arches were replaced to allow for larger ships to pass. The newly added steel structures were also best fitting for that time-this addition of modern technology allowed bridges to be thinner, stronger and more porous. And now, as the bridge is being considered to be reopened as an art complex, what better transformation can the bridge take then to continue this trend of reforming structure by introducing to the public the next new technology? Rather then obstructing the advancing nature of the bridge by labeling it as an old artifact of the past, the bridge needs to preserve its legacy by continuing its adaption to the newer needs of current times. Under this design, the bridge becomes a museum in itself- a museum of structures, living on its destined fate to showcase how structural logics have continually evolved and benefited history.