Form(X) As Unknown

HIGH BRIDGE POOL & BATHHOUSE
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NEW YORK, NY

Advanced Research Design Studio Spring 2016
Duration: 10 Weeks
Collaborators: Nick Napoli
Critics: Holger Schulze-Ehring, Corey Wowk, Julio Salcedo

Can the apparently random folds, wrinkles, and creases of a crumpled sheet of paper provide a structural concept for
a long span roof canopy? Our project, entitled “Micro-Macro” seeks to explore and exploit the inherent structural rigidity
of a creased and crumpled single sheet of paper. The project’s program is simple; to create a roof structure over the
existing High Bridge Pool & Bathhouse on 173rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue so that it can be open to the public
year-round. 

Our initial design research looked into the structural typologies of the folded plate and gridshell. From the get go, we knew
a lightweight, transparent system was what we wanted to pursue, as it seemed the most plausible solution to span (2)
Olympic sized swimming pools. During initial form finding studies, we found that single surface sheets of paper gain
significant strength by imposing on them “macro” creases and folds, as well as “micro” creases and crumples. The
combination of the two increases the surface’s rigidity tenfold. We translated these early studies and concepts into our
lightweight, three-dimensional gridshell proposal, using the “macro” creases and folds as formal gestures along the
structure’s edges and creases within the surface, and “micro” creases as the triangulation of the surfaces. The combination
of the two enable our lightweight geometry to span the nearly 300 ft x 400 ft span completely column free.

Greatly influenced by the infrastructural and social history of the site (the High Bridge brings the city’s water supply in from
the Croton Aqueduct, and the site was home to an infamous racial gang murder in the 1950s), the current trends in activity
in the immediate site and community, and the exponentially growing air pollution numbers in the immediate area, we wanted
our project to serve as an open oasis for the community that would become a major destination in tandem with the adjacent
High Bridge (which was recently renovated into a vertical park) to revitalize activity around the site and bring a what once was
a prosperous and convivial park and waterfront back to life.

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