Parachute Pavilion international design competition, USA
Status: honourable mention (10 awards, 864 entries)
Client: CICD – Coney Island Development Corporation & NY City Economic Development Corporation
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with M. Klauser, S. Fernandes, A. Hassouri
Year: 2004


…deus ex machina


This competition invited designers to generate innovative design proposals for a pavilion in the shadow of the famed Parachute Jump, an iconic reminder of the Coney Island heroic history, that is now a designated landmark. The pavilion is planned to be an all-season generator of activity. This competition invited designers to stretch the limits of what a pavilion can be, both formally and programmatically, connecting it to both the history and future of Coney Island.


This future oriented active pavilion is not a ‘building’, it does not depend on architecture. Thanks to the Parachute Jump, its landmark, we do not need representation and style, nor decoration. It would be just in the way. We went beyond architecture.


Coney Island was a technological paradise in its heydays during the 1880s. We designed an interactive device that allows total flexibility in use. We consider it a tablet, a platform that adapts to wide ranges of use and users. It is able to accept 365 different activities, each day of the year or more often a new one. Users, individuals as well as collectives, can communicate with others, express themselves, and do their thing.


The pavilion consists of a concrete basin that facilitates all kinds of services like a kitchen that functions together with a store and a flexible multi-use space as bar, lunchroom, restaurant and expo space. Technical and audiovisual equipment are embedded to supply heating and cooling, sound and lighting, projection beamers and lasers.


Two adjustable flexible activity sheets make the bottom (floor) and top (roof) of the pavilion. The lower sheet is a programmable, flexible floor system, which makes different shapes: from a plane to a stepped slope or stair, from auditorium to arena. The upper sheet rests on top of the basin and makes a programmable interior. It can be opened, lifted and folded by four hydraulic cylinders. A lifted top sheet as roof makes outdoor interiors in three ways: completely open, half open by a protective hot air curtain or protected by flexible, semi-transparent facades: retractable synthetic Kevlar-Mylar screens pulled out from the roof. In folded position it looks like a laptop, with projection screen and audience space.


Both floor and roof have led-matrixes over the complete surface to serve as projection screens. Over time, the pavilion can be kept up to date by inserting and uploading new available technologies. The pavilion as catalyst…