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Eme3 International Architectural Festival Submission. Barcelona, Spain 

MPLS Rope densCITY with Jeff Montague (JeFe)


From the stiff, plant-based fibers of prehistoric times rope has evolved across time and various cultures into the synthetic, elastic nylon rope we are familiar with today.  In recent times, rope has evolved into a highly dynamic object for rope climbing.  It is an activity dependent on a specialized rope, which is strong, elastic, and designed to absorb the energy of a person in free fall while alleviating them from physical injury. Made from nylon, this rope exemplifies the evolution of rope making.  Yet, because of this elasticity, these climbing ropes are short-lived and must be checked constantly for dead spots.  If a dead spot is detected, the rope must be retired.  As a result, a large amount of retired ropes make their way into the waste system.  The intent of MPLS Rope densCITY is to reuse these retired ropes within the context of a temporary space in order to create a dynamic structure that highlights the rope as the mediator between the human body, space, and event.  

As an object, rope offers a strong tactile quality.  The arrangement of fibers within a rope is driven by the rope’s purpose.  Depending on the thickness of the rope, it can be grabbed, wrapped, or pulled.  Typically, rope is an object made to work; as a singular object the rope must enable performance.    The scale of the rope may range in size from a string or fiber to a rope the size of the human body. However, when multiple ropes come together the built up density of these objects create an inhabitable space for the human body (figure 2 bottom).  The rope shifts from an object fit for a human body to grasp to an architectural material used for human inhabitation (figure 2 top). 


MPLS Rope densCITY uses rope as a material mediator between the human body, space, and event.   The project proposes to bridge the physical boundary of a plaza sited within Minneapolis with a temporary structure through space and event.  As the ropes that attach to the structure progress across the tree lines of the site, the colors of the ropes shift to reflect the site.  Furthermore, the  “shedding of the ropes” (figure 3) at scheduled times throughout the summer allow for a dynamic shift in the spaces of the site.  Hence, the ropes serve as the primary material for bridging the city with the site, the site with the structure, and the structure with the human body.  The rope wraps and hangs from the structure, the rope swings as people interact with it, and the rope transitions into the city as people play with the ropes.  By building a density of roped spaces, the structure becomes a temporary city that engages site, people, and material into interactivity.



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