The Barcelonian studio of architecture of Cloud 9 – under the direction of Enric Ruiz-Geli, in association with the North American WRT, with landscaper Margie Ruddick leading and Peter Ebner and Franziska Ullmann together with Frei Otto – was chosen to carry out the remodel of the Aquarium of New York, located on Coney Island.
This aquarium, attached to the Wildlife Conservation Society, is the oldest active U.S..
The proposed intervention is a great skin stretched over a structure ready, involving the old and new facilities at the aquarium. This structure reaches 50 meters in height. The intervention was developed on an area of five hectares, and is budgeted at $200 million.
“The most important part of our performance,” says Ruiz-Geli, “is the integration between continent and content. The building houses animal life, and skin that we propose will also have a life; like living beings, it will respond to light, camouflage itself or show itself.”
The New York Aquarium is home to dolphins, jellyfish, sharks and walruses, and has three major industries: environmental conservation, genetic research and education.
“The Space between the visitor and the floating roof” says Peter Ebner, “is where you will feel the dynamic of the total project”
The enthusiastic creators of this project wanted to reflect in their work the life that is developed inside the complex where hundreds of live animal of a great number of species inhabit. They all live in harmony with the care of their caregivers and trainers. The animals grow, learn, play, have fun, sleep, eat… an entire ecosystem in miniature. To reflect these characteristics and provide the facilities of its own life as if it were an animal skin, they have devised a covering.
This skin is far from being cold and static. It is dynamic and changes as the climate, natural light, humidity and other factors change, the same way as the species living in it.
The remodeling of the aquarium in New York consists of a “living” skin, as its creators call it, covering the existing facilities.
This skin is supported by a lightweight steel structure that will rise to the height of 50 meters at its highest points.