Dreams of Shanghai, Dreams of Governor’s Island

Posted June 10, 2010

Living Pavilion, winner of the City of Dreams Pavilion Competition 2010
Living Pavilion, winner of the City of Dreams Pavilion Competition 2010

Everyone seems to be dreaming these days . . .

When ESI first took on the project to design a pavilion for Expo 2010 Shanghai, we thought long and hard about the Expo’s theme: “Better Cities, Better Lives.” And we realized that dreaming is at the heart of innovation, creation, invention, empowerment, and improvement — dreams lead us to see things from a different perspective and to think outside the box. So dreams became the main metaphor for our pavilion, the Dream Cube, a place where visitors discover that by working together they can make their dreams for the future of Shanghai come true.

Well, if dreams can inspire people in Shanghai, then why not New Yorkers? This is just what FIGMENT NYC is trying to do, with a festival this weekend (June 11-13) on Governor’s Island, as well as interactive art installations that will be on display there throughout the summer. FIGMENT is art at its most open, participatory, and collaborative, inviting people far and wide to create, share, explore, and imagine. Its founder, David Koren, is a firm believer in the power of participatory, collaborative art, especially when it is made even more magical by being ephemeral and of the moment.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the Living Pavilion, designed by Ann Ha and Behrang Behin, the winners of the City of Dreams Pavilion Competition. Co-sponsored by FIGMENT, the Emerging New York Architects Committee of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (ENYA), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY), the competition solicited designs for a temporary building that “has net zero impact and that serves as a prototype for a new, truly sustainable, way of thinking about design and construction.” The Living Pavilion is all this and more — an undulating, living structure that suggests that nature can flourish in unexpected ways and that encourages us to dream of a more sustainable New York.

Chatting about how FIGMENT has grown and evolved over time, and about his own dreams for ensuring that the arts will continue to play a major role in the public experience of Governor’s Island, Koren really hit home for us when he quoted architect Daniel Burnham: “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized.”

So hop the ferry out to Governor’s Island this weekend, or any time this summer, to enjoy the views, have some fun, and indulge in a little summer daydreaming of your own.

Debra Everett-Lane

Debra is ESI Design’s former Director of Content and Activity Design.

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