Murphy Monsters

This new species of temporary architectural pavilion uses simple extrusions and zoomorphic shapes in order to catalyze the social and cultural life of underutilized sites. Inspired by 1980s action figures, the project's graphics represent the pavilions as a series of toys in their packaging. Through this appropriation of mass culture, the pavilions assert the optimistic and the playful condition latent in any urban setting. Deliberately avoiding complex geometries in favor of simple extrusions, straight lines and arcs, the Monsters’ forms are not far from the regular geometries of a gridded downtown fabric, the vernacular appendages of a Victorian farmhouse or rural barn (stoops, dormers, chimneys, silos, etc.) Yet, their zoomorphism helps to convey eccentric personalities with heads, eyes, tails, and legs that bestow character through architectural elements.

Each Monster’s shape and persona is derived from its function, the amenity it provides, and the attitude it conveys. In anticipation of the range of events that the Monsters may participate in, such as concerts, car shows, parades, carnivals, flea markets, and tractor-pulls, their amenities include a soundstage, bandstand seating, concession stand, shade structure, wind machine, and trellis. Blowhole is the soundstage. He is an extrovert, an attention hog, and perhaps a bit of a narcissist, yet he allows other musicians to take the stage and share his spotlight. On the other hand, Chowhound (the concession stand) is all about serving his friends and making new ones: the more people he can feed, the happier he is. Sidestep and Hop-on (shade structure and bandstand seating) are a little more laid back and happy to have the crowds hang out and relax on or under them, cooling off or listening to music. Finally, Triumph and Windbreak (garden trellis and wind machine) are reserved, a bit introverted, but compelled by their sense of duty to roam the site, providing a cool breeze or vegetative flourish wherever needed.

This crew of benevolent beasts is comfortable in almost any setting or arrangement. From an open field on the outskirts of town, to a busy parking lot in the middle of an urban downtown, their arrival on any scene transforms a flat open area into a dynamic public space. Each creature has movable parts that allow it to expand during events, and contract during business hours. In their open postures, the Monsters are actively welcoming and engaging; they support the events around them, drawing attention and crowds. Yet, during off-duty hours in their resting posture, they serve a different kind of purpose. As silent companions to an urban context, they change the nature of the buildings around them, of the people passing by, and of everyday life in general.