The Pop-Up Chapel project now has its chapels. Yesterday, the project's creators announced the two designs that will be built in Central Park on Saturday. Over the course of that one day, 24 same-sex weddings will take place inside the two chapels, which will be built at the prime location of Merchant's Gate, near Columbus Circle.
The winning designs, chosen from a pool of 56 entrants, each boast intriguing concepts. One, by interior design firm ICRAVE, is a shimmering canopy of rainbow-hued ribbons in an eight foot by eight foot by ten foot open frame steel structure. The other, by Z-A studio, is a twisting helix of two honeycomb cardboard pillars that meet on top to form a kiss.
Carley Roney, the editor in chief of TheKnot.com, which is sponsoring the project along with design website Architizer, said the winning designs proved that "constraints can create amazing creativity."
The entrants only had 10 days to come up with their concepts, and because the Department of Parks & Recreation only granted the project a permit that lasts from dawn to dusk, the designs will need to be built in just a couple hours on Saturday morning. The teams will also need to construct their designs on a budget of just $3,000 each.
"It didn't have to really speak to it being a gay wedding, it just had to speak to it being a pop-up wedding," Roney said of the designs. By 7pm, the teams will be pulling down their creations -- which is just as it should be, Roney said. "The wedding is disposable. The marriage lasts forever."
For interviews with the winners and photos of the designs, look at the slideshow below.
"Kiss" is made out of a deceptively simple material: honeycomb cardboard. But the intent is somewhat more complex. "Imagine you are standing there with two walls, and they... start twisting or tourqing towards one another, creating this shell-like structure," Z-A Studio head Guy Zucker says. The goal is to create a "narrative" -- "the narrative of the two individuals who come together to create a single structure," Zucker said.
Zucker, who himself is married, said he was intrigued by the possibilities of creating such a meaningful structure on such short notice. "All the religions actually, think about it, create incredible architecture" for weddings, he said, pointing to Jewish chuppahs, Christian chapels and other structures. Zucker and his wife got married in Israel 11 years ago. Neither are religious, Zucker said, so they chose a civil ceremony. But Israeli law does not recognize such marriages performed on its own soil, which meant Zucker and his wife were living a sort of counterpart to the unrecognized marriages gays and lesbians in many states have entered into. When they got to the US, Zucker said, he went with his wife to the Manhattan office of the City Clerk, which before a redesign in 2009 was a notoriously unglamorous place. "Basically you stood in like an endless line, and you got a little window, and you signed papers," Zucker said of his experience. "It couldn't have been very moving."
In his architecture Zucker likes to push boundaries and rethink what building a structure means. That's a lot like a marriage, he believes. "We never stay the same, our lives are so changing all the time, our identity changes as we grow older, and we are totally different than we were 10 years ago," Zucker said. His rippling design is meant to reflect that. "I think architecture should also be thought of in the same terms, not something constant."
The central elements of this design are the steel structure and the ribbons dangling down from its ceiling. ICRAVE designer Lionel Ohayon said he had never done a project quite like this before; his firm focuses mostly on interior designs for nightclubs, restaurants and the like. The ribbons, Ohayon said, "created like a parabolic void, inside of which you reveal a sort of colorburst that expands itself out to a field of white."
The chapel itself will be transparent, open to tourists and park visitors who are just walking by. Ohayon said that makes sense for a marriage ceremony. "You're inviting the world, you're making a public declaration, right?" he said. "You're relinquishing some inhibitions.I know I haven't relinquished mine yet. And you're stepping through the looking glass" -- in this case quite literally. While the chapel will be taken down with the sunset, one part of it will stay with the grooms or brides forever: the ribbons, which the couples will tie together during the ceremony and take away afterward. "Even though there's a temporal nature to this chapel, it's only there for a day, it leaves some sort of a memory with the people who experienced it."