Head in the Clouds Pavilion by StudioKCA wins AIA Small Projects prize

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Pavilion made from 53,780 plastic bottles among AIA Small Projects winners

Tens of thousands of recycled plastic bottles combined to create this cloud-shaped pavilion by Brooklyn architecture and design firm StudioKCA, which has been named one of the winners of the American Institute of Architects' Small Projects Awards.

Head in the Clouds Pavilion by StudioKCA

Recognsing projects built for a budget of less than $1.5 million with a floor area under 1,500 square metres, the annual AIA Small Projects Awards went to 10 projects this year, including the Fall House by Fougeron Architecture, a cafe for Yale University by Bentel & Bentel and an installation at the Muse

Head in the Clouds Pavilion by StudioKCA

One of two pavilions that picked up honours from the AIA, the Head in the Clouds project was designed by StudioKCA for a summer exhibition hosted last year by participatory and interactive arts organisation Figment on New York’s Governors Island.

Head in the Clouds Pavilion by StudioKCA

The Head in the Clouds Pavilion was developed in response to a brief calling for a "place to dream in the city of dreams", which the designers interpreted by creating a space where visitors could "contemplate the light and colour filtering through the cloud from the inside, out."

The pavilion was constructed from 53,780 recycled bottles, the number thrown away in New York City every hour.

Head in the Clouds Pavilion by StudioKCA

The bottles were collected from businesses, schools, organisations and individuals throughout New York City and assembled around a curved aluminium frame.

One gallon jugs formed the undulating external surface, which gave the pavilion the appearance of a fluffy white cloud that appeared to have crash-landed in the park.

Head in the Clouds Pavilion by StudioKCA

A matrix of smaller 16 and 24 ounce bottles covering the interior were filled with water mixed with different amounts of blue food colouring to create a random pattern over the surfaces.

Combined with the framework the weight of the water provided ballast so additional foundations were not required.

Head in the Clouds Pavilion by StudioKCA

The aluminium structure curved down to form a small seating platform at the base that could accommodate 50 people.

Funding for the pavilion was secured through crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, and more than 200 volunteers from the local community as well as arts and architecture organisations were involved in the construction process.

Head in the Clouds Pavilion by StudioKCA

Other projects among the 10 winners of the awards announced earlier this month included an installation created out of hundreds of paper covered wire coat hangers by Matt Fajkus Architecture, and a pavilion made out of mesh fabric and aluminium that channels solar power for charging electric cars. Three more houses complete the list – Fougeron Architecture's Flip House in San Francisco, Redaction House by Johnsen Schmaling Architects in Wisconsin and Small House by Cooper Joseph Studio near Sonoma, California.

Photography is by Chuck Choi.