Hou de Sousa, Prismatic

May 25, 2019
Architecture Field 01

Prismatic is a kaleidoscopic experience of light, color, and space that frames a myriad of perspectives. The piece is unique on all sides, encouraging the public to explore the exterior, as well as meander through its translucent “streets”. Iridescent cords weave between a light-weight steel lattice. Gaps between the cords provide transparency, while also producing a dynamic visual effect known as a moiré. As visitors turn their gaze or walk about the space, patterns in the background and foreground continuously converge and de-laminate, resulting in the perception that static surfaces are somehow in motion.

The project has been designed specifically for Georgetown Waterfront Park. The form and space of the sculpture is sub-divided by a juxtaposition of geometric and contextual factors. This design process occurs in three phases. First, a box is cellulated by prisms radiating from a central point, followed by the echoing of contextual features, such as the outline of the water fountain and existing pathways, as well as the Potomac River, which then split and spread the box apart. The result is a diverse array of apertures and perspectives, collectively focused on a central core, but shaped by one’s vantage point and relative position from within or outside the sculpture.

The project was assembled in Brooklyn and designed to fit onto a single 46ft flatbed truck. The rebar lattices were welded together, painted, and then interwoven with iridescent cord. The result is a sturdy structure with an appealingly low ratio of weight to volume.

Hou de Sousa LLC is a New York based architecture, art and design studio that promotes innovative, culturally progressive and environmentally responsible solutions. The team has design/built art installations, public spaces, public sculptures, restaurants and private residences both domestically and abroad. Hou de Sousa approaches new projects with fresh eyes, analyzing the unique constraints and nuances in order to streamline the design and construction process. This detailed focus carries through to the planning of spaces, tailoring of materials, emphasis on craftsmanship and stewardship of fabrication.

Nancy Hou
Originally from Shanghai, Nancy grew up in Quito, Ecuador and went on to receive her B. Arch from Cornell and her M. Arch from Harvard. Nancy has designed commercial and residential projects in both New York and Quito, including several Michelin star awarded restaurants. Prior to founding Hou de Sousa, Nancy worked at Kohn Pedersen Fox and Slade Architecture. Nancy is the Creative Director of HAAUS (Harvard Alumni Architectural and Urban Society) and a professor at Parsons School of Design.

Josh de Sousa
Josh also received his B. Arch at Cornell, an M. Arch at Harvard and teaches at Parsons School of Design. Before Hou de Sousa, Josh designed residential, commercial, public, and institutional projects at Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Joel Sanders Architect, and Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

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