Mochi

Hou de Sousa's proposal for the 2015 Folly at Socrates Sculpture Park has been selected as a Notable Entry, and will be featured in a publication about the competition later this year.

"Mochi" was inspired by the many lives of its site, which was once an abandoned landfill and illegal dump-site, but then reclaimed by artists and the surrounding community for public use. We chose to work in this vein, and sought ways of breathing new life into a material typically dismissed as valueless waste. 

The project consists of 6,000 discarded plastic shopping bags (the same amount NYC wastes every 15 seconds) draped over a bird cage structure of pvc pipes. As part of the recently passed NYS Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling Act, large retail stores are required to collect used plastic bags for recycling. We propose to utilize this free resource as a construction material.

The mock-up was assembled by fusing together several plastic bags with a hot iron, which recast the flimsy one-use bags into sturdy waterproof sheets. We then cut, paired, and heat-sealed the borders of these sheets. The resulting pockets can be filled with air, water, soil, insulation, etc. much like stuffing a ravioli, pillow, or mochi. Stitching multiple mochi together with grommets produces a thick, but flexible, membrane easily shaped into complex surfaces.

We believe it’s possible to distill the strengths of any material, thereby expanding its potential applications, and shifting the perception of what it can become. Mochi is just one example. 

Organized by The Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park, Folly 2015 is an annual competition among emerging architects to design and build a large scale project for public exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park.