Puzzle Box

Proposal for the Socrates Sculpture Park  ‘Folly / Function’ Competition
Long Island City, New York, 2019

The Puzzle Box presents itself as a simple white framework, housing a series of richly colored, uniquely shaped objects within. While it is clear that each object is from the same family, the specificity of each form suggests a distinct function, although it is unclear what each of those functions might be. When the box is unlocked and expanded, however, these functions are made immediately evident, and the object is transformed into an active and vibrant setting for information and exchange.

In its unstaffed form, it is self-sufficient, closed, and compact, exposing only its essential elements: a large display for signage, information, and wayfinding, a pocket for printed brochures, and a lockable donation box, all highlighted in the bright orange color of the Socrates Sculpture Park. Three additional objects are contained within, but their use is shrouded. Only glimpses of these items within are offered, as a moire effect deceives the eye as different colors and patterns of mesh overlap.

When the kiosk is operated by staff, it expands and transforms into a fully functional pavilion. After the white metal enclosure rotates horizontally to create a shade structure, each of the interior objects shifts and rotates into position: a transaction counter for the display and exchange of merchandise folds down in front, the donation box rotates 90 degrees to address a new orientation, a bench for seating two staff members folds down, a large storage and display cabinet rotates and opens in the back, and the information board folds open to triple its display area.

At its core, this object is a simple piece of infrastructure with a very refined method of operation. Fabricated from steel, it is rugged and maintainable. It can hold up to heavy use and does not need to be protected in inclement weather, and its durable finish allows dirt and graffiti to be easily washed away or simply painted over. Further, the simplicity of its gridded modular form makes it infinitely customizable for future configurations of interior components. Other modules could be added as needs and desires change. Other kiosks can even be built in the same visual language and method throughout the park.

At just over 1800 lbs, the kiosk can be easily transported by several methods. While two indentations in the bottom of the frame allow for easy fork lift access and mobility, it can also be lifted from the top by a boom truck. Though we’ve shown The Puzzle Box placed on a pad directly off of the main path, it would be equally at home on any level grassy area anywhere in the park.