In our final P.O.D.System Architecture movie, architects Joanna Grant and Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular explain their playful high-rise architecture concept that also functions as furniture or a cat tower at different scales.
Los Angeles studio Bureau Spectacular's design for P.O.D.System Architecture – a collaboration between Dezeen and adidas Originals – is a 1:100 scale model of a conceptual mixed-use development comprising a group of high-rise buildings.
As well as representing an architectural concept, the model is designed to be used as a toy for cats to climb on, and can also be taken apart to create five individual pieces of furniture.
"For P.O.D.System Architecture, we are proposing a mixed-use high-rise that happens to be a furniture object; that simultaneously happens to be a cat tower," Lai explains in the movie, which Dezeen filmed in Los Angeles. "It works on multiple scales as a conceptual exercise."
The brief for the P.O.D.System Architecture project calls on architects to create conceptual buildings based on the story behind adidas' recently launched P.O.D.System shoe, which combines various different shock-absorbing technologies into a single sneaker.
Lai says that the story behind the shoe reminded he and Grant of Voltron: Defender of the Universe – a 1980s cartoon featuring a giant robot made up of a series of smaller robots.
"When we first saw the P.O.D.System shoe, we talked a lot about Voltron, a cartoon that I used to watch as a child," he explains.
"The P.O.D.System shoe is comprised of disparate components that come together, much akin to the individual super bots that come together as a giant robot in Voltron. We thought – couldn't architecture do the same?"
Bureau Spectacular's model comprises four towers, which attach to a central base structure. The five individual model components can be unfolded or extended to create a range of different furniture items.
"It is a model of different scales," Grant explains. "At one scale, we're looking at the architectural scale. It combines four towers and one core block where we can imagine different kinds of occupations of humans and different programatic uses."
"But at another scale, we can think of it as five individual furniture elements, such as a storage for shoes, or a place to hang your coat," she continues.
When all the furniture pieces are brought together, the model is designed to function as a cat tower for Grant and Lai's pet, called Helvetica.
"At another scale, we're conceiving of how we can think of architectural programmes providing opportunities for cats to climb and hide and jump on them," Grant says.
"Helvetica is always looking up at humans," Lai adds. "With the Architectural Voltron project she has the opportunity to tower above tiny humans."
Grant and Lai describe Architectural Voltron: Cats and Socks as a "conceptual exercise", rather than a serious building proposal. But they believe that it is important to have fun with architecture in order to make it appeal to a wider audience.
"At Bureau Spectacular we are always trying to make designs that friendly or fun, but then are conceivable as a building," Grant explains.
"Often times people don't know how to engage with architecture, or contemporary art, or design, and our office is trying to bridge the gap between that. If a building can come across as funny or friendly, that's a way that we can connect with people."
This movie was filmed by Dezeen in Los Angeles. It is the final video in the five-part P.O.D.System Architecture series, a collaboration between Dezeen and adidas Originals.
It is dedicated to the memory of Grant and Lai's pet cat Helvetica, who sadly passed away shortly after filming.
You can watch all the videos at dezeen.com/podsystem.
Design and modelling: Mark Kamish, Ted Zhang, Kyoung Eun Park, Tanvi Rao, Sam Pladet, Veronica Smith
Fabrication support: Maya Reyes, Jose Hernandez, Sharif Anous, Julio Rodas, Kirill Volchinskiy