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Pliable Portico

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Los Angeles, CA, USA



M&A Craft Contemporary courtyard

Project Team:
Neeraj Bhatia, Haifa Al-Gwaiz, Shawn Komlos

Invited Competition

Our proposal for the Craft Contemporary courtyard architecturalizes the notion of a tree canopy to offer a variety of experiences and uses in a bounded pocket of urban space. Conceived of as a large curtain, the installation drapes over the existing beam that runs through the courtyard, as well as a series of lattice-like supports spaced at precise intervals. The catenary system is created by a series of parallel ropes that hang at differential heights. This dynamic drapery fosters a series of diverse experiences that engage datum, layering, scale, and use.

Datum—Lifting to embrace the street or lowering to create an intimate experience, the ropes create a transforming series of vertical and horizontal datum’s, bringing you above and below the canopy. Linked to the height of human occupation and movement, this dynamic datum provides scale and porous threshold to the courtyard.

Layering—layered thresholds are formed by the different arched structures. In the transverse viewing field, a flattening of different forms of human occupation with the catenary structure creates an experience of curiosity. In the longitudinal viewing field, the legibility of the inverse portico structure enables enclosure within a particular structural bay.

Scale—hanging at a range of heights, the catenary structure enables different forms of occupation and engagement—swinging, sitting, resting, hanging, etc. Breaking down the scale of the courtyard, the structure creates and frames a range of scales of collectivity—from intimate experiences such as reading to larger gatherings. It allows one to be alone together or part of a larger collective.

Same but Different—While unity, coherence, and legibility is created by the continuous structure, it takes on a different role in each bay—from swings and hammocks, to sunshade, to theatre backdrop. Instead of adding visual complexity or another object to the space, the installation can be tuned precisely to questions of use, experience, and program while retaining its conceptual clarity.

Both subtle and present, foreground and background, legible and ethereal—our project merges structure, program, and experience into a field condition that is constantly negotiating the subject—the environmental forces of wind as well as the social forces of gathering.