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Remember the National Building Museum’s “BEACH” exhibit last summer (yes, the one allegedly connected with pink eye)? Remember how the Dupont Underground started a contest in January to find someone who could creatively repurpose the tiny white balls from that exhibit and display them in underground tunnels?
We now have a winner. On Monday, the Dupont Underground announced New York-based firm Hou de Sousa as the winner of the “Re-ball!” competition for their Raise/Raze design. The title seems to be as much a play on words as an accurate description of what’s to come in the one-time streetcar station: a series of ball-composed blocks that spelunkers will be able to interact with.
“We were impressed with how their design translated a material concept into a social concept,” said Craig Cook, the director of Re-ball!, in a statement. “Visitors will activate the installation and implicitly engage in a democratic process: some build, some destroy, some work together, some work alone. It is a piece that is especially relevant to Washington.”
Members of public (who can get over that groan-worthy #ThisTown statement) must RSVP in advance to visit Raise/Raze. Potential visitors who donate at least $25 to the Dupont Underground’s ongoing Indiegogo campaign will be able to register earlier than the general public.
650,000 three-inch balls will make their way into the tunnels, across 14,000 feet of curved space. That space will be divided into five design sections for the exhibit: Government Buildings, Shell Valley, Grove, Cave, and Text. The Dupont Underground says it got 92 proposals from 19 different countries for the contest.
Hou de Sousa explains the layout of the exhibit on its website:
When accessing Dupont Underground from the main entrance at New Hampshire Ave, visitors are surrounded by the most compressed zone, a crystalline cave, which forks into two windy paths. The Southward path leads to a forest-like colonnade of twisted trunks and stumps for resting on. Beyond this grove lies a series of large spherical shells that define a meandering path while simultaneously enclosing small pockets of space. As one passes through this valley of domes, a group of scaled down buildings begins to appear; the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court Building. Conversely, if at the cave’s foyer one forks towards the North, then the visitor encounters and passes through a space of massive letters and walls of text.
The exhibit will be the first in the Dupont Underground, a long-planned arts space beneath Dupont Circle. You can see more design renderings of the planned exhibit here. It opens April 30 and runs until June 1.
Photo via Dupont Underground; h/t Architect Magazine