Hermas Development


Hermas Development

CLIENT Hermas Development Company / SIZE 10. 000 m2 / STATUS Under Construction / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates / One Lux Studio

The Hermas Development will feature four office buildings organized around a central courtyard. Each building has retail on the ground floor, nine office floors, and a tenth roof level amenities connecting all four buildings. The roof level amenities house the Al Kamal headquarters, a Spa, Gymnasium and a restaurant for fine dining. Sitting on a site area of 15,220 m2 and rising 47 meters in height Hermas Development will be LEED Certified and have a 5 star QSAS rating.  

An Islamic pattern is reinterpreted through the site.  Modified, scaled, simplified, the pattern becomes at times the layout of the courtyard, at others, a paving pattern, the edge of the water feature, and benches.

The shade, the sound of the water, the vegetation and the color palette will provide a sense respite and freshness as soon as one enters the courtyard. Materials with warm colors are selected for the streetscape and cool color ones such as greens and greys for the courtyard.

The planting palette for the courtyard showcases native tall vertical palms and acacias well-known for their horizontal canopy. The sun study of the courtyard maps areas of sun exposure suitable for planting trees, and consequently where the earth berms up to allow for planting depth.

The terraces on the 4th and 10th floors feature pixel like planters allowing for more intimate spaces where one can sit alone or in a small gathering. The terraces of the 4th floor have a white, a red, a blue and a yellow garden; the ones on the 10th floor have a scent garden, an edible garden and an orange grove. The vegetated roof of the 9th floor displays arabesques of sedums.

Smithson Floating Island

2005 - NEW YORK, NY, USA



CLIENT Produced by Minetta Brook in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, with the assistance of the Hudson River Park Trust, and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation / SIZE 2,700 ft2 / 250 m2 / STATUS Completed in 2005 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Official LLC / Diana Shamash / Minetta Brook / Nancy Holt / James Cohan Gallery / Estate of Robert Smithson / John Rubin / Floating Cinema PHOTO CREDIT Andrew Cross / John Bartelstone

Never realized during the artist Robert Smithson’s lifetime, Floating Island is a 30 x 90-foot barge landscaped with earth, rocks, and native trees and shrubs, towed by a tugboat around the island of Manhattan. The fabricated “island” on view from September 17 to 25, 2005 was visible to millions of residents, commuters, and visitors along the Hudson and East Rivers. 

Robert Smithson developed the concept for Floating Island in 1970—the same year he created his best-known work, the ambitious earthwork Spiral Jetty at Utah’s Great Salt Lake.  Balmori Associates interpreted his 1970 sketch and consulted with his widow the artist Nancy Holt. According to her, Smithson's project was intended as an homage to Central Park. Floating Island offers a displacement of the park—itself a man-made creation from its natural habitat.


2015 - Brooklyn, NY, USA



SIZE 125.7 square feet / STATUS Completed 2015 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

GrowOnUs Floating Landscape in the Gowanus Canal

An experiment to clean water through phytoremediation, desalination and rainwater collection to irrigate productive floating gardens.

Balmori Associates has designed, fabricated and is launching a floating landscape in Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. The floating infrastructure is one in a series of projects Balmori has designed to act as sponges that filter and clean water and provide wildlife habitats in the city. Floating infrastructures can adapt to and address rising seas.

GrowOnUs, an experiment in floating infrastructure was launched on Friday September 18 at 11am at the Third Street Bridge in Brooklyn, NY.

The project was funded through a $20,000 grant Balmori Associates and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy received from the Cornelia & Michael Bessie Foundation to research and create a floating productive garden in the Gowanus Canal. Once a hub for maritime and commercial activity, the Gowanus Canal has captured industrial waste products from factories located along its banks; and during heavy storms, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) bring not only stormwater to the canal but also untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and debris.

GrowOnUs transforms metal culvert pipe into planters. These are the same pipes used to bring the polluted runoff and sewage waste to the canal. Each of the 54 test tubes isolate different experiments in plants (over 30 plants selected for phytoremediation and natural dye production), various watering conditions (clean water through phytoremediation, desalinate canal brackish water through evaporation and condensation and collect rainwater), as well as a variety of buoyant construction materials (coconut fibers, bamboo, mycelium, and matrix of recycled plastic.)

GrowOnUs will be monitored to study the viability of producing large scale edible floating landscapes in cities with polluted rivers. It will also further explore other functions with urban potential as a multi-functional green infrastructure: shoreline protection, biodiverse habitats, energy production, and public space.

Diana Balmori, discussing the project commented: ‘We have pioneered floating landscapes, we now want to learn what can make these floating structures financially sustainable. Dr Michael Balick at the New York Botanical Garden suggested we grow herbs, low maintenance crops that can give a financial return given their price per volume. In a few years NYC restaurants may be serving meals and drinks infused with herbs grown on one of these islands.’

Similar to green roofs or linear parks in place of traffic medians, floating landscapes exist on the edges and underutilized spaces within cities. Whereas green roofs exist as an intersection between landscape and architecture, floating islands are a model of the interface and transitions between the river, the landscape and the city. 

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The Garden That Climbs The Stairs




CLIENT Bilbao Jardin / 2009 / Fundación Bilbao 700 / SIZE 80 m2 / 860 ft2 / STATUS Completed 2009 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / PHOTO CREDIT Iwan Baan

As a member of the jury for the second edition of an International Competition of urban gardens in the city of Bilbao called “Bilbao Jardín 2009”, Diana Balmori was invited to create a temporary garden. Balmori, like each of the twenty-five selected participants, was assigned a ten meter by ten meter square in which to design a garden. The site was located at the landing of a large staircase between two Arata Isozaki towers leading to Santiago Calatrava’s footbridge over the Nervión River.

Instead of remaining at the landing of the stairs Balmori stretched the same hundred square meter surface into a narrow band and shifted the site in order for the garden to climb the stairs. In one broad stroke the garden performed a narrative of landscape which transformed the way this public corridor was perceived by users.  In form, the garden engages the horizontal plaza with the rising vertical plane of the steps and the upright gesture of Eduardo Chillida’s sculpture. Like the famous ‘Spanish Steps’ in Rome, the garden is not only designed for visitors to ascend and descend, but for them to linger.

“The Garden That Climbs the Stairs” transformed a space in an unexpected way. It transformed the stairs and the space around them.

West 53rd Street

2017 - NEW YORK, NY, USA



CLIENT Algin Management / SIZE 15,000 sq ft / STATUS Under Construction / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / CetraRuddy

The organization of West 53rd Street was generated by an urgent need for programmatic flexibility in limited outdoor terrace spaces. Interior green spaces and terraces were carefully planned and designed to accommodate a multitude of activities from the more private garden use to large scale communal events. 

This project started with a research into the various types of activities that a residential complex could accommodate in terraces of various light, wind and noise characteristics. By analyzing and fully understanding the nuances and intricacies of how residents might use their outdoor spaces over time, we were able to create spaces that are responsive to the various user types throughout the day in four different seasons.

West 53rd Street Blue Roof

Bedford House




CLIENT  Confidential / SIZE 3200 ft2 / STATUS Completed 2011 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Joel Sanders Architect

This project was generated as one of integrating landscape and architecture. Cascading down the hillside of a woodland sanctuary, Bedford House is a renovation of a 1950s weekend home on a 4-acre site that abuts a 225-acre nature conservancy. Organic and synthetic materials - wood, stone, concrete and plants - link interior and exterior, interweaving  landscape, pool, and main house.

Materials are the connective tissue. The white concrete surface continues from inside the house to outdoors, interlocking with bluestone pavers and creating a path that leads down to the pool terrace. The white concrete surface folds up and cantilevers over the pool terrace to form the pool house, while field stone retaining walls dynamically wrap the pool house and make the pool into a sculpture.

Bands of vegetation undulate across the front and rear of the property, unifying the site before dispersing into the forest, in a composition that changes color with the seasons.

Making Circles in the Water




CLIENT Metis International Garden Festival, Reford Gardens / SIZE 150 m2 /STATUS Completed, 2011 /DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Denis Pelli: Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, New York University / Carlos M. Brañas: Marine engineer, Consulmar S.R.L

Waterscapes allow for powerful horizontal views that let the eye to extend far along the horizon, providing a pleasurable experience which is a unique and an inseparable condition of landscape. Balmori Associates studied forms that are capable of shaping the way one apprehends space in order to make the viewer more conscious of the act of seeing. The viewing device chosen for this demonstration was a truncated cone with openings on either end. 

These vision cones were then implemented within a series of large planes with circular openings, scaled to allow humans to pass through the space.  The voids created by the circular openings gradually rose from the ground, shifting your view and relationship to the landscape as you transcended the space. By progressing through the frames towards the water the field of view incrementally opened up, allowing the horizon to gradually reveal itself.

Soho Tower

2017 - New York, NY, USA

Soho Tower

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Bizzi & Partners Development / STATUS Design In Progress / DESIGN TEAM  Balmori Associates + Renzo Piano Building Workshop

A series of daylighting analyses determined the plant selection for Soho Tower. Climbers, understory trees, and mosses were selected for the drop off while at the terrace by the spa we designed a palette of prairie grasses that would allow for maximum privacy while framing the view from the indoor pool. Black olive trees and jasmine were selected for the atrium.

Meditation Room: Reflecting on Horizon




The horizon line is one crucial reference when experiencing landscape. What distinguishes a city from all other places are the multiple horizon lines stacked over one another, receding or advancing towards you, creating an effect of constriction and enclosure. The search for the sense of an open horizon is partly satisfied in an urban park: perhaps the real pleasure an urban park provides is not through its vegetation, as assumed, but its release from the constricted horizon line.

In Meditation Room: Reflecting on Horizon, commissioned by the City of Atlanta for ELEVATE 2015, the reflection of the sky and the earth introduces a new clear fabricated horizon in an otherwise congested urban panorama. Members of the public are invited to come in for a five minute meditation, a pause, to connect with the sense of an expansive horizon in the smallest of spaces.

Diana Balmori wrote in Drawing and Reinventing Landscape (Wiley, 2014) that “Landscape architecture is an art of peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is essential for understanding and appreciating landscape; central vision alone cannot capture it.”

Reflecting on Horizon is part of an ongoing series of experimental art installations from Balmori that explore themes such as peripheral vision by creating meditative experiences in the urban realm.

Balmori Associates completed its first meditation room, Meditation Room: Horizon presented by The Drawing Center for the New Museum’s Ideas City Festival 2015. In September, “Making Horizon” opened at the 10th China (Wuhan) International Garden Expo. Read more

Greenwich Residence

2017 - Old Greenwich, Connecticut, USA

Greenwich Residence

Old Greenwich, Connecticut, USA

CLIENT Private / STATUS Under construction / SIZE 0.75 acres / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates,  Joeb Moore and Partners / PHOTOS Balmori Associates,  Joeb Moore and Partners

In 2012 during Hurricane Sandy a major fire ripped through a small residential community in Greenwich, Connecticut destroying several homes. With that the owners of one of the homes that had been completely destroyed, Balmori were commissioned with Joeb Moore & Partners Architects to design a fully integrated architectural and landscape environment. Embodying the latest innovations in sustainable design, the passive-house standard design for the modern home is complemented by a green roof and rainwater management garden that retains all of the on-site run-off rainwater.

The long rectangular lot is unusually special in that is book-ended by private lanes at either end. The primary concept for the design of the landscape and the house was to create a long linear path that connects the rear access lane up onto the pool terrace, through the house and down through a terraced natural meadow that overlooks the serene long island sound. The walkway is designed with a custom pattern to emphasize the linearity of the path and this is complimented by a row of gingko trees running alongside it.

 The walkway crosses over a variety of landscape features that showcase the beauty and functionality that landscape design has to offer. A small courtyard separating the house from the garage contains a miniature Japanese rock garden with a specimen dwarf pine. The view of the long island sound from the living room and outdoor dining patio is framed by a heath and heather garden with a wild variety of species. The landscape also has productive elements with a small herb garden set on elevated planters and a small orchard of cherry trees set in a natural meadow. At the end of the site a bioswale is designed to retain run-off rainwater from the site and is planted with a variety of white and blue flowering rain garden plants that offer seasonal interest.

The lightweight timber clad house is set in a landscape that compliments the architecture by using natural cleft bluestone for the low horizontal terrace walls on which the house rests and strategically positioning mature maple trees around the house to control views. The roof of the house is covered in an intensive mix of evergreen sedums and native grasses.

Torre Iberdrola

2012 - Bilbao, Spain

Torre Iberdrola

Bilbao, Spain

CLIENT Iberdrola / STATUS Competition Winner, Completed 2012 / SIZE 300,000 m2 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

The winter garden functions as the lobby and reception area of the Iberdrola Tower. To enhance the character of the space, we selected three ancient olive trees. These trees, treated as sculptures, will emerge from a landscape composed by desert flowering plants.

The public plaza around the tower has been designed over a submerged parking garage. This roof garden reads as the continuation of the surrounding landscape of the Campa de los Ingleses Park, also designed by Balmori Associates.

The tower is LEED certified and all the water arriving to the site will be treated. There is a bioswale surrounding the tower to collect, filter and clean the water arriving to the site.

Hermas Development

2017 - Doha, Qatar

Hermas Development

Doha, Qatar

CLIENT Hermas Investment Company / SIZE  10,000 m2 / STATUS Under Construction / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, One Lux Studio

The Hermas Development will feature four office buildings organized around a central courtyard. Each building has retail on the ground floor, nine office floors, and a tenth roof level amenities connecting all four buildings. The roof level amenities house the Al Kamal headquarters, a Spa, Gymnasium and a restaurant for fine dining. Sitting on a site area of 15,220 m2 and rising 47 meters in height Hermas Development will be LEED Certified and have a 5 star QSAS rating.  

An Islamic pattern is reinterpreted through the site.  Modified, scaled, simplified, the pattern becomes at times the layout of the courtyard, at others, a paving pattern, the edge of the water feature, and benches.

The shade, the sound of the water, the vegetation and the color palette will provide a sense respite and freshness as soon as one enters the courtyard. Materials with warm colors are selected for the streetscape and cool color ones such as greens and greys for the courtyard.

The planting palette for the courtyard showcases native tall vertical palms and acacias well-known for their horizontal canopy. The sun study of the courtyard maps areas of sun exposure suitable for planting trees, and consequently where the earth berms up to allow for planting depth.

The terraces on the 4th and 10th floors feature pixel like planters allowing for more intimate spaces where one can sit alone or in a small gathering. The terraces of the 4th floor have a white, a red, a blue and a yellow garden; the ones on the 10th floor have a scent garden, an edible garden and an orange grove. The vegetated roof of the 9th floor displays arabesques of sedums.


Newport Garden

2006 - Newport, RI, USA

Newport Garden

Newport, RI, USA

CLIENT Nicholas Scheetz / STATUS Completed 2006 / SIZE 1,460 SF / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Outerbridge Horsey Architects / PHOTO CREDIT Mary Beth Meehan Photography

(Post) Colonial Garden

This is a fresh look at the ‘colonial garden’ for a 18th C. home in Newport Rhode Island.  As a port city, Newport was a lively center for the import and exchange of exotic plants.  Historic records of the lot revealed the colonial practice of planting orchards and the experimental grafting of fruit trees.  Utilizing the time honored play of shifting perspectives and scale, this relatively small space for generous entertaining is transformed into a series of luxuriant garden rooms.  3-dimensional espaliered pears, bands of bluestone paving and gravel and plantings maximize diversity and provide the garden’s structure.

Two conceptual notions excavated from colonial garden history are exercised to inform the program and organization of the (Post) Colonial Garden.  SOCIAL GARDEN (PARTY) is the act of cultivating a garden for entertainment and enjoyment and harvested as gifts. Plants are planted in bands with a seasonal and color coded ‘companion.’ 3-D ESPALIER SCREENS employ techniques of espalier, which first became popular several hundred years ago in the walled medieval gardens of Europe.  Few or no fruit trees could be grown in these walled gardens because of the limited space available. Following finely crafted stone walls, the espalier screen creates a 3-dimensional version of the traditional espalier while providing depth and transparency in the garden.

Urban Meadow BKYLN

2003 - Brooklyn, NY, USA

Urban Meadow BKLYN

Brooklyn, NY, USA

CLIENT Clean Air Communities, Con Edison, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), The lily Auchincloss Foundation, American Stevedoring Inc., The Independence Community Foundation and The Architectural League / STATUS Completed 2003 / SIZE 8,000 SF / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associate, XS Space, The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation+Greenthumb, Office of the Brooklyn Borough, Center for Climate Studies – Columbia, University, Alan Dye Graphic Design

New York City-based landscape design firms XS Space and Balmori Associates have transformed an 8,000 square foot vacant lot owned by The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation into a verdant meadow with gently rolling hills of grasses, wildflowers, and flowering trees in downtown Brooklyn, NY. Initially conceived as a temporary landscape, this project received such overwhelming support by the local community that the New York City Parks Department adopted it under the auspices of its Community Garden “Greenthumb” program. Since the completion of the design and installation by Balmori Associates and XS Space this summer, this new park will be maintained by local residents.

Two large signs posted at the entrance to the park enumerate the environmental benefits of this newly vegetated site’s footprint on the environment. Scientists from Columbia University’s Center for Climate Studies were asked by the designers to study the impact of this site on surrounding air and water pollution, the Urban Heat Island Effect, and resulting health problems for NYC residents. The scientific data they collected quantifies the site’s increased capacity to absorb storm water run-off, offset carbon emissions, and create a cooler microclimate.

Urban Meadow BKLYN marks the launch of an ongoing collaboration between XS Space and Balmori Associates exploring innovative ways to temporarily transform vacant urban lots into productive green spaces. The landscape design firms are currently pursuing a proposal 5 LANDSCAPES / 5 BOROUGHS proposing a landscape project in each of New York City’s five boroughs. This proposal directly addresses Mayor Bloomberg’s PLANYC 2030 to reduce global warming emissions and provide easily accessible green space to every NYC resident. The designers are currently meeting with Community Boards throughout New York City to develop a list of potential sites for these landscapes. The design team is seeking sponsorship by various foundations, non-profit organizations, private corporations and developers.

"NOOKS" for Dome Colony X

2009 - New York, NY, USA

"NOOKS" for Dome Colony X

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Fritz Heag, Dome Colony X at San Gabriels at X INITIATIVE / STATUS On Exhibit 2009 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

Two critical parts of public space use need a fresh look: the places and ways of sitting in it, and the places and ways of walking on it. We have become very interested in playing with these elements and the piece that we produced for the “Dome Colony in the San Gabriel’s“, for Fritz Haeg’s two month long exhibition at the X Initiative Art Space was a way of playing with seating and planting. Envisioned as dynamic space and furniture piece; in form, it is a garden that engages the Colony. It is not only designed for visitors to move and play with, it is a social community space that invites them to linger, and just be. Can you work with some units for seating which people can assemble themselves (varying the height closeness to others etc.)? Using this as a premise the units allow you to make nooks where one person can be alone, or some can be for two or a large group. We named the experiment “nooks” for this reason.

The secondary idea grafted on this was if plants could be incorporated into the system. This time they are shown conceptually by providing paper flowers that people can plant in the space. The Garden narrates a story of landscape taking over and expanding over the Public Space, therefore changing the way that the space is perceived and read by the user. The users that “plant” flowers in it, transform it with time.

Govenors Island

2006 - New York, NY, USA

Govenors Island

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Governors Island Preservation & Education Corporation / STATUS Competition 2006 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

Governors Island is at the southern tip of Manhattan, an island is one hundred and thirty -two acres, half of it a historic park with old military barracks and handsome buildings, which are scheduled to remain, the other half open for proposals. The island ‘s separation from Manhattan required stepping up it’s open space attraction, so we designed three glass structures, or biomes. You can enter one of these in winter and experience the warmth-and - light-rich atmosphere of a desert in a glassed-over desert landscape. Imagine New York city in the middle of winter, when the cold winds bite, our fingertips freeze and snow quickly turns to brown slush. Who would not welcome the opportunity to shed their layers of clothes and bask in the dry desert sun just 5 minutes away from the city. Now imagine New York City in the middle of summer, when the humidity is restless and the air stagnates. Would you not enjoy retreating to a dry climate where a breath of fresh air is only a short ferry ride away.

Another biome consists of a tropical lagoon, also for winter enjoyment. Some people call New York a concrete jungle, where the diversity of people, the constant flow of energy, and the variety of places compose an intricate network of life. Here in the rainforests on Governors Island, people can experience another kind of jungle, one of tropical delight. Here visitors will be enclosed in a temple of forest trees, draped with vines and exploding with tropical flowers. As you move from the smell of fertile on the ground through the warmth of the moist air to the canopy walkways, the layers of the rainforest each respond to different light conditions , from darkness on the forest floor, to the draped sunlight through the middle section , up to the bright and airy tops of the forest.

The last is an Ice house with icebergs and tundra vegetation, where you can go in summer. The arctic climate of the tundra recreated in New York’s backyard, will be the grounds for both curious scientist and tourist to commingle. Here visitors will be invited to explore the delicate lichens and mosses that cover the rocky landscapes and peer into the various pitcher plants of cold waters. The sculptural foundations of snow and ice will provide a sanctuary of light. In colder months, while you must keep your jacket on, the Tundra will offer a different winter experience from one we are normally exposed to. Park, beach, boating, farm and garden would fulfill other open spaces desires. But the biomes would ply a role of connectors, providing experiences much different from those offered by most city parks.

The Habitat Project will also celebrate the native and cultivated vegetation of the Hudson River valley by providing a special area for research and education. From sustainable technologies to urban agriculture, they are in the center of the island will be designated for agricultural development. The public will be able to take courses in organic farming as well as purchase some of the produce grown on the island. This area could also provide the restaurateurs, in the historical district, with fresh produce and herbs. 

Saarinen Garden Cranbook Academy

1995 - Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA

Saarinen Garden Cranbook Academy

Bloomfield Hills, MI

CLIENT The Cranbrook Academy of Art / STATUS Completed 1995 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

The Cranbrook Academy of Art was established in the early part of this century as a complete artistic community embodying the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement. Eliel Saarinen, the community's architect, designed a house and garden for his family on Academy Way. Both house and garden had fallen into disrepair and have been recently restored.

Balmori Associates, responsible for overseeing a full restoration of the garden, studied many historical sources to guide the restoration design including an early garden plan, most likely drawn by Saarinen; photographs of the academy from the 1930’s and later; and various archival films. In addition, the plant palette of C. DeForrest Platt was determined from his original planting plans and informed all planting decisions.


Tong-Shan Jie Residential Complex

2011 - Shanghai, China

Tong-Shan Jie Residential Complex

Shanghai, China

CLIENT China Vanke Co.Ltd / STATUS Under Construction / SIZE 18.5 acres / 7.49 hectares / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Pelli Clarke Pelli / CCDI 

Located in the heart of the Huangpu River Complex district of Pudong, Shanghai’s booming economic development zone, Tong Shan Jie Master Plan calls for eight residential towers, a hotel, and a clubhouse arranged around a figural open space. The Master Plan defines a new sustainable landscape, increases environmental awareness, and provides high quality urban living.

The design intention is to tie the architecture together through landscape and program while enhancing the individual character of each tower by creating unique gardens such as a moss garden, a trellis garden, and a rock garden. The main sunken garden features water cascades, a reflective koi pond and a floating tea pavilion within a lush landscape of cherry and magnolias trees. The necessary underground parking garage ventilations became an opportunity to establish visual and spatial connections through water, light, and vegetation. 

Balmori Associates collaborated with video artist Marina Zurkow and computer scientist Nikolaus Correll to develop interactive features. The pavilion, whose floor is made up of hundreds of LED “insects”, has the ability to detect touch, including footsteps. Dragonfly shaped LED lights interact with people as they enter the pavilion. The dragonflies might cluster around a single user’s feet, scatter if there is high foot traffic, or hover during low traffic. The dragonflies can also “travel” with a participant over the floor. Fast foot actions might startle them and cause them to move away quickly. They might act as individuals or with a swarm mentality. When the pavilion is unused the insects have sets of behaviors that are affected by the weather, becoming sluggish when the atmosphere is hot and wet  and speedy when crisp and dry. 


Building an Urban Living Room Come Se Gallery

2010 - Rome, Italy

Building an Urban Living Room Come Se Gallery

Rome, Italy

CLIENT Galleria di Architettura “Come Se” / STATUS Design completed in NY in 2009, Exhibition in Rome June/July 2010/ DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Civico Zero & Save the Children

What should a public space be, asked Balmori in an online twitter forum with invited landscape architect Erik de Jong, planner Arnold van der Valk and their 40 Dutch students. We extended the conversation to the Meatpacking District, the neighborhood of our office, by participating in New York festival for contemporary psychogeography, “Conflux City 2009”. The ideas we collected on sharable space, urban decorum, and contextual appropriateness were broadcasted in a short video on blogs including the New York Architectural League’s Urban Omnibus.

With these ideas we developed design principles for the Urban Living Room:

Re-use materials – design to avoid waste create rough, industrial aesthetics

Keep it simple – Low tech and inexpensive construction and maintenance

Anticipate changing requirements – plan for easy reconfiguration The Urban Living Room is made of simple, inexpensive and interchangeable elements – a base, a pole, a canopy – to perform the functions of planter, shading, space partition, seating, lighting, rainwater collector…and even a birdhouse. Put together, these components create a public place, a space where one can linger, relax, and just be.

In 2010 Balmori Associates took the Urban Living Room to the first edition of Rome Architecture Festival, La Festa dell’ Architettura di Roma. Balmori Associates provided the organization “Civico Zero / Save The Children Italia” with guidelines for the construction of an Urban Living Room. The children and adolescents of the association, who recently arrived in Rome from Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, often homeless, sometime without papers, and who do not speak Italian or English, built their Urban Living Room.

Diagrams of the components indicated Materials a barrel filled with gravels and cement or with soil when used as a planter, galvanized steel poles, rubber mats made from tires for the seats, and sail cloth for the canopy and partition. But materials on hand in Rome were different from the ones originally selected for the New York City project: the barrel was replaced by cars and trucks’ wheels, the poles were orange PVC construction pipes, and the canopy and lightshade were made from an olive collecting net. Hosted by the Architecture Gallery, Come Se, the Urban Living Room opened in June 2010 accompanied by photographs telling the story of the construction of the Urban Living Room taken by one of the adolescents of Save The Children, the young Ivoirian, Mohamed Keita.