UnBlocked

Unblocked is a prototype for a new kind of pop-up exhibition space. Made from mylar, it is a lightweight system that can be pre-cut to specific geometries and stitched together offsite, and expanded and assembled onsite. Tension ties are used to preserve the expanded form, out of which a volume is carved to produce both an inhabitable space and a rippling texture in the facade when cut against the grain of the vertical cells. This specific installation is sited around Jacques Lipchitz’s 1950 bronze sculpture “Birth of the Muses,” and intends to prompt future pop-up spaces that can highlight MIT’s extensive public art collection on campus.  

Lipchtiz’s Birth of the Muses

We were drawn to the piece based on its flatness as a sculpture, but also its scale—compared to other public sculptures on the MIT campus—being able to accommodate an installation that would be relatively fast and easy to produce with just two people.

How different geometries occlude or enhance the sculpture

Concept development

We had worked together in a previous design studio focusing on lightweight materials, and developed an expandable system made of pre-stitched plastic sheets. We wanted to test its structure and spatial experience at a larger scale, and saw an opportunity to highlight the institute’s rich collection of public art on campus, as well as encourage more opportunities for collaboration between architecture and the visual arts at MIT

Expanding the first unit using tension ties

Design

Installation

Adding the center pieces

Exhibition

Final Exhibition

This project is funded by the MIT Department of Architecture and the Council of the Arts at MIT. 


Special thanks to the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Joel Lamere, Yungho Chang, William Plunkett, and Jim Harrington for your help and support.