Portfolio Project Detail

Follies in a Park Gunnar Lowe and Rishika Chaudhury

Throughout history, cities have shown to be the measure of health of a society. A thriving city speaks to the net satisfaction of its citizens. Natural disasters, crime, changing demographics, and financial opportunities elsewhere can lure citizens away to other cities, suburbs, or rural areas. How far they move away from an urban area is often proportionate to their desire to live within a more natural environment. As with many cycles, these stressors eventually subside and people are drawn back to urban areas by the opportunities and amenities they provide.

The response to COVID has been an experiment that had not yet appeared in the human story. Thanks to technology, a large amount of the population has been able to remain in their homes for the entire day. In an ideal workday, a person would spend 8 hours resting indoors, 8 hours working indoors or outdoors, and 8 hours of personal time to socialize or relax indoors or outdoors. These three parts of a day during the pandemic have become dramatically imbalanced towards the indoors, reigniting an appreciation for time spent outside. For some urbanites, their local park has been enough to provide an escape, while others have moved on to greener pastures away from the city block.

Our design objective is to provide a landscape that explores how our public spaces, normally reserved for recreation, can be designed for other nontraditional activities and therefore contribute to the revitalization of a city.

Folly Park is a design focused on deconstructing the notion that most amenities and activities must be facilitated indoors. The design entertains the idea that in the future, buildings may become mere follies – an element in the landscape that may or may not have a purpose. Giving the space its own purpose then must lie in the hands of the user. In the words of the American architect Paul Rudolph.

“A folly or fantasy must change and evoke different meanings if it is to be dynamic over a period of time. Since nature is constantly changing it is difficult to imagine a Folly that does not depend, to a large degree, on nature, for the two are inevitably intertwined.”

The design identifies landscape typologies aligned with the pattern and movement of people to and from cities as well as the three parts of the 24 hour day – work, socialize, and rest. The nature of these phases are parallel to the typologies of Follies, trees + seatwalls, and lawn. The interwoven path through the site reflects the journey and routine we undertake everyday to repeat those phases in a loop, similar to the importance we give cities as we cyclically uplift and diminish them.