The Cloud

A call to action – New York, USA

Competition 2009

For: Peace Pentagon

The question was to re-imagine and rebuild the Peace Pentagon, located at 339 Lafayette Street in New York City. To give a physical form to a name in-use since this building became the center of peace-promoting activism in the 1960’s. There is the need to expand the work of peace activists on several scales: as a financially and ecologically sustainable building, as a means of engaging with a neighborhood that has a rich history of activism and art, and as part of an influential city that can impact thinking in far away places.

In this proposal, activism is interpreted as having the goal to be heard in order to change, not to change in order to be heard. Therefore an adequate design should be found in an addition to the existing building to establish a more thorough contact with the public. The A.J Muste building has a historical relation with the neighbourhood and will be renovated to maintain it´s meaning as source of activism. The addition, a delicate body, becomes a mediating tool for the various organisations to transmit their message. Within this body, cavities in the form of symbols of the balance in peace, make intriguing spaces. They translate the struggle between innocence, violence, beauty, religion and chaos. As a real cloud the extension hovers above the streets, can be used for ‘on the spot activism’ and could even move elsewhere.

Key element concerning sustainability is re-use. It not only means the integration of new technologies, but also revaluing the old and adapting this to changing contexts. The existing facade will be equipped with a new internal facade making the total function as a second skin, enclosing the offices with a thermal buffer that helps in heating and cooling the building. The Cloud, constructed of lightweight recycle-friendly polysterene, is the supplier of solar energy and will contain a filtering installation for wastewater. In this way, the Peace Pentagon has to become almost fully self supporting.