Valeria Rybyakova

Perkins Eastman

Responsive Enclosure for Public Pool

Project Form-X speculates on the phenomena of a new generation of self-organized, responsive structures that will revolutionize the way we perceive our built environment, as well as change our design and construction methods.

Form-X investigates an innovative structure with the ability to handle various scales and address environmental challenges, making it applicable to a wide range of building typologies.

An abstraction from any specific condition reinforces a system need in self-sufficiency and sensitivity to any environmental change. Form-X mimics a bio-system and adopts similar principles of functioning.

Form-X is a system that represents a multi-layered mesh with a sensitive upper layer that protects buildings in the same way a skin with feathers protects a body. An extreme condition triggers a protective mechanism to spread feathers for an increase in layer depth, and creates a buffer with a microclimate inside. To allow a response for variation in depth, Form-X uses principles of deployable tensegrity. A grid of dynamic metal needles interconnected by metal cables sits on a fixed metal grid. These cables control the rotation of the needles. An environmental sensor, integrated into each needle, allows the system to detect the level of solar activity and calculate an optimal angle of rotation, providing an appropriately sized aperture between the shades attached to the needles.

Although the project mainly focuses on developing universal structures for an unknown building shape, further implementation of the designed system will generate conversation and initiate a process of constant design exploration. The system, in this case, is tested as an enclosure for the High Bridge Recreation Center swimming pool in Upper Manhattan. This site is historically known as the original location of the city’s water reservoir, which was later replaced under Robert Moses’s program to accommodate a public bathhouse.

Opened in 1936, the bathhouse is still in use and has two outdoor swimming pools, one Olympic and one Wading, with a total capacity of 4,800 people. While attracting many visitors, the outdoor pools are only in seasonal use. Extending their operating times would be a logical step to improve the quality of the pool services for the community. Form-X ultimately addresses the challenge of creating long-term, enclosed structures for pools, sized 220′ x 162′ x 10.5′ and 220′ x 92′ x 2′, that can accommodate various climate changes.

Project Architect: Valeria Rybyakova

Advisor: Holger Schulze-Ehring