Cast & Place is the winning entry to the 2017 FIGMENT "City of Dreams" pavilion competition on Governors Island.
Every year FIGMENT, a not-for-profit arts organization, the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee, and the Structural Engineers Association of New York hold the City of Dreams competition to find a team to design and build a pavilion on Governors Island in New York City. The competition asks teams to consider: What is the future of New York City? How can design be used to confront environmental challenges? Can architecture be built out of recycled or borrowed materials?
Our answer was to propose a pavilion made entirely from waste. Using locally excavated dredge and fill, recycled aluminum cans, and reclaimed wood, Cast & Place re-imagines waste as a transformative resource for our New York City future. The pavilion will be the hub of FIGMENT's free community arts festival on Governors Island during Summer 2017.
Why should you support Cast & Place?
- We are sourcing a lot of aluminum from New York City. We are working with canners (the folks who gather cans and bottles), school kids, and the NYC community to gather hundreds of thousands of cans. Your support will make this amazing, community-based project happen!
- We are pioneering a new fabrication method to use cracked earth molds (think "dry river bed") for casting structural aluminum panels. The cracks are filled with molten aluminum. Void becomes structure. By supporting us you are helping develop material research with exciting future applications.
- You'll be enabling a conversation about the future. In a time of climate crisis, we need to rethink how we use energy and resources. We asked ourselves: What if we used waste to make this pavilion? How could we find value in the valueless? Join our journey and become part of the conversation.
The Cast & Place Pavilion
Dredged soil and fill, the material also used to make Governors Island, is laid out to dry and crack in reclaimed wood molds. Recycled aluminum cans from the city are melted and poured into the cracked dredge. The results are light, strong panels assembled into spaces for performance and play. At the end of the summer, the pavilion will be disassembled and turned into benches and trellises for the people that helped support the project.
300,000 Aluminum Cans
- The amount used by New York City in 1 hour
- 300,000 cans would fill a room 25' by 25' by 10'
- Recycling aluminum saves 90% of the energy that would be used to make it new
- Aluminum is infinitely recyclable
5 Tons of Clay
- Originally, we planned to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to collect dredge from the East River. However, our project schedule and scale do not align with their annual dredges.
- Luckily, we found the Clean Soil Bank (http://www.nyc.gov/html/oer/html/nyc-clean-soil-bank/nyc-clean-soil-bank.shtml), an organization that facilitates the transfer of earth from excavation sites that want to get rid of it to building sites that need it
- Our clay is from an excavation site in Flushing, Queens
- The clay being excavated is from glacial deposits; it is pure clay that hasn't touched the atmosphere since it was deposited during the last ice age.
- The wood we use will come from Big Reuse (http://www.bigreuse.org/), an organization that turns wood from demolition sites and storm debris back into building materials
1. A tray is constructed using 2.5" by 4" steel pallet rack welded together
2. Wet clay is laid to dry and crack on two layers of hardwood plywood. The bottom layer of plywood fits snugly in the steel tray. The top layer is 1" narrower on all sides so that when we do the pour, each panel will have a frame that is 1" deeper than the cracks, maximizing structural strength while minimizing material. Wood boards restrain the clay within the 1" gaps along the sides. These boards are removed after the clay is completely dried.
3. Fire-proof sheet rock is used as the top of mold and is cut to fit snugly in the steel tray. Small holes will be cut into the sheet rock to allow the air to escape.
4. Melted aluminum is poured into holes in the sheet rock and flows to fill all the cracks. Using a two-sided mold instead of an open-faced pour gives us the necessary head-pressure to make a large panel.
So far we have...
- Cast a small prototype
- Built one of the trays to make a bigger 20" by 40" prototype.
- Experimented with two methods for drying the clay: (1) heating the clay on one half and (2) blowing air with a fan over the other half. The first cracks appeared on the side with the fan. We are continuing to investigate combinations of heating and fanning the clay to achieve a drying method that is fast and minimizes energy while producing sufficient cracking.
- Tested our furnace set-up
- Melted aluminum cans
- Cast a set of C&P ingots
- Collected glacial clay from a site in Flushing Queens that we found through the Clean Soil Bank and the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation (OER). Check out our full update here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/168496702/cast-and-place-city-of-dreams-pavilion/posts/1821817
- Cast a 20” x 40” prototype in our dried and crack clay mold. Aluminum flowed well through the cracks and frame. Two leaks in the trays caused a loss in head-pressure that made it difficult for the aluminum to reach all parts of the mold. This is why we prototype! Check out our full update here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/168496702/cast-and-place-city-of-dreams-pavilion/posts/1826072
- Re-engineer the tray without wood to avoid leaks
- Perform a second prototype casting
- Find and fix any kinks in our procedure
- Cast the panels
All the funding for this project comes from donations, sponsorships, and fundraising campaigns. While we were provided with $3,000 of seed money (from the competition entry fees), we need your help to really get things moving.
What will your money be used for?
Materials Collection- $12,000
- A dump truck to collect and transport 5 tons of clay from Flushing, Queens
- Truck rental to move cans and wood to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ
- Recycling bins for can drives
- 300,000 cans is a lot! We are going to collect as many as possible from the NYC community. Whatever we are not able to collect we will purchase from Sure We Can, a not-for-profit recycling center and community space for canners. We have budgeted to purchase 100,000 cans from Sure We Can.
- Scot Thompson, the artist we are working with, has a studio and casting equipment at the Grounds for Sculpture. However, since this is a new and experimental method, we will need to get additional materials and equipment. We'll need plywood, wood, steel, fiber blankets, casters, fans, fire mortar, and propane.
- We'll also need some materials to make your rewards. Resin bonded sand, paper, furniture legs, furniture connection pieces, and shipping
Installation and Disassembly- $4,000
- Equipment to get the panels and trays of earth to Governors Island and to prepare the site
- Connection components to hook the panels together
- Equipment to disassemble the panels and re-purpose them into your rewards
- Grass seed to make sure we leave Governors Island exactly as we found it
Who are we?
We are a group of architects, engineers, and educators who joined together to design Cast & Place. We believe in the benefits of people from different organizations and fields working together to strengthen a design.
Josh Draper is a principal of PrePost (http://studioprepost.com/) and Clinical Professor at CASE/RPI (http://case.rpi.edu). Josh’s current design research focuses on the potential of waste materials for advanced building systems.
Lisa Ramsburg is a designer for the New York office of Schlaich Bergermann Partner (http://www.sbp.de/en/). Lisa graduated from University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a minor in Sustainability Studies.
Powell Draper is a structural engineer and Director of Operations for the New York office of Schlaich Bergermann Partner (http://www.sbp.de/en/). He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union (http://cooper.edu/architecture/people/powell-draper).
Edward M. Segal is an engineering professor in the New York City area. His work focuses on the analysis, design, testing, and optimization of structures constructed from unconventional building materials.
Max Dowd is an Architectural Designer working in New York City having graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture London and The Cooper Union.
Scot W. Thompson is a Master Sculptor at the Grounds For Sculpture (groundsforsculpture.org) in Hamilton NJ with over 30 years of metal casting experience. Scot also owns and operates a 3D printing lab in Brooklyn, NY.
Bruce Lindsay is a professional sculptor and educator based in Trenton, New Jersey. A graduate of Bucknell University, Bruce has been actively creating sculpture for over 30 years. In 2006 his “United States War Dogs Memorial, State of New Jersey” was dedicated adjacent to the New Jersey Vietnam Memorial in Holmdel. His sculptures “Use of Memory” and “Between Essence and Existence” are sited at Grounds for Sculpture. Through his company Integral Sculpture Works (www.integralsculpture.com) Bruce has assisted many other artists with the design and production of sculpture.
SureWeCan (http://www.surewecan.org/) is partnering with us to supply aluminum cans gathered from the City. SureWeCan is a recycling center, community space and sustainability hub in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Your support of the Cast & Place pavilion will help fund the 400+ canners that staff and supply the SureWeCan facility. Canners are the folks gathering cans and bottles in the city. At SureWeCan, canners do the sorting for different recyclers, maintain a classroom, a theater, a new community composting service, and much more.
Agustina Besada, director of Sure We Can, has agreed to bag, store, and sell us up to 100,000 cans.
Many people are helping us make this project a reality. And hopefully there will be many more! Involving the community is an important aspect of this project.
We have designed a bunch of great rewards to thank you for helping us turn Cast & Place into a reality. The rewards aren't just for you, though; making them will help us figure out different parts of the process.
If you want more than one of these awesome rewards just pledge the combined total of all the rewards that you want (plus shipping) and send us message telling us which ones you want!
Pledge $10 - Cast & Place Pavilion Thank You Email
We'll send you a personalized email with a high-resolution image of the Cast & Place pavilion. Show some love to a project that's focused on the future of our environment and community.
Pledge $15 - A Cast & Place Pavilion Postcard
We'll mail you a postcard, with an image of the Cast & Place pavilion, signed by the designers. Get a message from our near future where we re-imagine our waste as a valuable resource.
Pledge $25 or more - Cast & Place Pop-Up Model
We'll mail you a pop-up postcard model of the pavilion signed by the designers. Separate, fold, and attach the crack pattern panels to see the pavilion come to life.
Pledge $50 or more - Cast & Place Aluminum Ingot
A beautiful, rugged ingot cast from 20 recycled aluminum cans with "C&P", the Cast & Place monogram, embossed in its surface. It's about more than just the ingot: you'll also be funding our experiments to find the best methods for melting and casting.
Pledge $75 or more - Crack-Pattern Tile
A 4" x 4" crack-pattern tile cast from aluminum cans. Use it as a trivet or a little piece of art. It's up to you.
Pledge $100 or more - Cast & Place Book
The Cast & Place Book is a visual diary of the pavilion process. Get the inside scoop on the design, fabrication, installation and celebration of this unique project! We'll add your name to the acknowledgements. Every book signed by the designers.
Pledge $250 or more - Come See a Casting with the Designers
You and a guest will travel to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ for a casting session with the designers. Watch us make a pavilion panel using our unique cracked earth mold process. You'll receive a piece we cast that night.
Pledge $300 or more - A 10" x 10" Crack-Casting
A 10" x 10" piece cut from one of our prototype castings. Each one will have a unique crack pattern. It can be a piece of art, a hot plate, or a stepping stone in your garden. Be creative and don't forget to share all the brilliant ways you use your piece.
Pledge $500 or more- A Crack-Pattern Stool
A 20" x 20" stool cut from one of the final panels. We'll provide the legs. Add a piece of tempered glass to turn your stool into a bedside table.
Pledge $1,000 or more- A Crack-Pattern Bench
A 20" x 40" bench cut from one of the final panels. We'll provide the legs.
Pledge $3,000 or more- A Panel from the Pavilion
Get one of 36 unique panels from the pavilion. Or get more than one and build your own beautiful space. Really, these are priceless, so you're getting a great deal.
How else can I help?
Come volunteer and make "Cast & Place" happen! We need your help gathering cans, transporting clay, fabricating the pavilion and running the pavilion this summer. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!
Risks and challenges
Casting aluminum in a cracked earth mold is an experimental method. There will be obstacles to overcome every step of the way. However, we are confident that we can overcome these challenges because we have assembled a team of experts and engaged a wide range of volunteers.
There are a few key steps in the process in which obstacles could arise:
-What if we can't collect enough cans from can drives? Sure We Can has already confirmed that they have up to 300,000 cans for us available to purchase. Additionally, we can look for other, potentially cheaper sources of aluminum like scrap recyclers and wholesalers. The drawback to these alternatives is they don't have as much community involvement.
-What if the cracks aren't deep enough or well enough connected?
We have developed a panel design that structurally is dependent on minimal cracking. We think that our ongoing testing program will enable us to update the fabrication procedure as necessary to meet these minimum cracking criteria. However, if for some reason there are trouble spots, we can make minimal manual interventions to manipulate the cracking in accordance with the pattern defined by the material.
-What if the aluminum doesn't fill all the cracks when we do a casting? There are traditional casting methods that we can use to make adjustments to our mold setup. For example, we can tilt the mold slightly as we do the pour to let gravity work for us. We can also change the location of the initial pour. We are working with Scot Thompson, an artist with over 30 years of experience with metal casting, and we are confident that together we will figure out ways to overcome casting obstacles.
- (28 days)