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Pavilion as an interactive medium for adjacent future:

The Watering hole

Cornell AAP & Cornell Tech Collaboration project from the class

"DESIGN & MAKING ACROSS DISCIPLINES: Adaptive Interfaces for a Resilient Future", Fall Semester, 2021

Hoon Yoon, Frances Gregor, Nadia Samman

Working period : Aug.2021 ~ Dec.2021



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Inspired by the Delacorte fountain that once was home in the southern tip of the island, The Watering Hole is a reinterpretation of water, light, sound and community through the vein of Delacorte’s desire to create a “whimsical water feature” on Roosevelt Island. It is a multi-part whimsical pavilion using water-based lighting effects to highlight music and community. The immersive design has been adapted to site conditions, and particularly located in an area that has a great view of the water, access to street parking, transit and lower excavation costs. Furthermore, The Watering Hole is inspired by the various systems we see throughout nature, such as branching and cellular modules, in a more nuanced and functional way- replicating their structure and purpose in the natural world. Most urban cities lack functional water spaces for our target market, which are generally limited to children and wealthy individuals. We imagine The Watering Hole as a way to form community through art, while removing the gatekeeping nature of human-water interaction in Manhattan.

Site determination in terms of site specificity 

In thinking of site suitability on installing a pavilion that associates with location’s site-specificity, we considered “Accessibility of possible audience” and “Potential Applicability on the hillside of Roosevelt Island near Cornell Tech Campus as a main supportive structure or platform for the pavilion.”  

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Concept: Water as Adaptive Interface that generates water caustic illusion

Developed from the concept of utilizing the light source via projection mapping, we created the relationship with water as the interactive medium between morphogenetic graphics and pavilion. In particular, the water caustics created by water ripple effect was what we significantly focused on and we tried to combine this concept with the other aspects—projection mapping and surface transducers that create water caustics by sound vibration.

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Form & Structure - Early Studies

Based on Pavilion's several direction points established through regional research and material studies, we attempted to draw some ideation sketches that contain key concepts -- vasculature branching network system(inspired by our previous work regarding exploring nature-inspired morphogenetic generative system) as a pillar structure and water rippling caustics as a ceiling structure.

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And this ideation sketch below is the investigative sketches for figuring out how we can successfully build the pavilion structure on the hillside of Roosevelt island by excavating the area, with securing the concept of water caustic effect that could be happening on the ceiling.

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Early Studies on Pavilion concept

This is the initially rendered pavilion concept that emphasizes and immerses into water caustic effects and which creates mesmerizing lighting interactions for the audience who approaches the installation. And moreover, we also thought about utilizing a morphogenetic branching system as structural support for the pavilion to maintain the linkage with our previous exploration as well.

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An idea of a sealed water container for water caustics

In considering creating water caustics by sound vibration on the water surface, initially we were thinking of a sealed, massive water container in which sound transducers are embedded, installed in every corner of a container so that the water caustics are simultaneously generated, creating some immersive visual illusion by overlapped water caustics. Also, we thought that the idea of a seal container could guarantee that it would be able to properly secure the water from external stimuli like heavy rain, evaporation by sunlight, and so on.

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The sequential diagram below is for explaining how the pavilion could be sequentially developed, by securing the concepts of vasculature branching network and water caustic effects.

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Early Studies on User Experience Aspect

With ideating the pavilion's basic structure as an initial approach, exploration on the user experience aspect was also meaningfully considered in this phase. In particular, we thought that experiences generated by water caustics influenced by natural sunlight or artificial light would dramatically create different types of atmospheric moods for the audiences during the day and night times. Hence, we came to think that this could be our primary user experience that traverses entire our concepts for developing a pavilion, and decided to investigate more about how we can augment this "water caustic illusion-based experience", successfully embodying it into our pavilion with the regional traits of Roosevelt island.

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(Left & Right) Initial photoshopped images that explain user experiences during day and night time

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(Left) An initial render image for a pavilion that shows coexistence between vasculature branching network concept and water caustic surface-based building structure

(Right) An initial render image for explaining reflected water caustic lighting effect.

Applying to Roosevelt Island’s hillside

With an initial pavilion concept that contains the coexistence of vasculature branching network as a pathway that penetrates the inner pavilion and water caustic surface as a ceiling platform, we attempted to apply this structure on to actual Roosevelt island hillside by photoshop.

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Pilot Experimentation 1 - Creating Water Ripple Effect by Sound Vibration

In investigating the user experience regarding how water caustic could be created by sound vibration generated by sound transducer, we used arduino, trying to revamp the different types of transducers to control sound frequency modulation while water is on the surface of it, creating a slight degree of water caustics.

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Experimentation 2 - Creating Water Ripple Caustics by physical movement

With the first pilot experiment with sound transducer, we augmented the experiment condition in a way of integrating with more complex graphic interface—vasculature branching network that combines with voronoi cell system. In exploring and experimenting the water caustic lighting effects by the physical movement, we’ve come to witness an amazing result that vibrantly shows that projection-mapped vasculature graphics is recreated, interactively reshaped in diversified ways by kinetic movement, and then creates mesmerizing visual effects.

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Experimentation 3 - Water Ripple Caustics that resonates with spatial depth 

And in this stage, based on the previous exploration we experimented regarding creating water caustic effects, we tried to create a space that could embed the sound transducer that generates sound vibration. Especially, in terms of site specificity that could conceptually make the unique user experience, this attempt is significantly meaningful for us to understand how the spatial depth could deeply create the more immersive water caustics that combine with vasculature graphics. 

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Form study on “Voronoi Pattern-based Acoustic Panel”

Along with the exploration on water caustic effects, we investigated how our previous exploration on the morphogenetic system could be applied to our pavilion project. One of the ways we figured out was to create Voronoi pattern-based acoustic panel that influences the sound’s spatial resonation. Through manipulating the Voronoi cells’ centroid population from X and Y axis, we come to get diverse outcomes ranging from extreme horizontal and vertical linear patterns to dense Voronoi patterns.

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Fundamental direction point towards the final concept of the pavilion

Based on what we’ve been exploring so far from diverse attempts and experimentation, we tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together to clarify the core direction point for the final outcome of the pavilion. Starting from the left, we’ve thought that a vasculature system created in a form of a graphic interface is essential as an interactive medium to the audience in an immersive way of approach and we tried to derive some experience from 4 sectors: Morphogenetic vasculature system, water caustics, parametric movement, and projection mapping as the technological medium. 


Then, we combined these experiences with the physical element in a way of utilizing the concept of Voronoi pattern for creating a parametric pattern-based surface. 


And lastly, based on these methodological conditions, we’ve distilled these concepts and thoughts into a final concept for a pavilion.

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Final Outcome - The Watering Hole

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A watering hole on the hillside of Roosevelt island

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A small watering pool with vasculature branching structure in which people can take a rest


Structural processes and material

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The Watering Hole's external shell structures will be made from Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, which is a sustainable product that has little to no impact on the ozone during its production, and is a better alternative to glass or plastic. Moreover, it provides the translucency and insulation needed for the success of the desired installation experience.

These structures will be supported by various different sustainable materials such as recycled steel, bamboo and cork. Each of the supporting structures have different interconnecting patterns, which replicate various patterns that we have seen in branching and cellular structures throughout nature and this course. Each of the water effects will operate as a “table top” like fountain, that will have a pump that will recycle and redistribute the water back to the top of the structure through multiple tubes.

Product Vision and Implementation:
Offer a unique and immersive experience that will appeal to tourists, new yorkers, students and Roosevelt Island residents. 

<Water Access Aspect>

  • To build upon Delecorte’s vision of having a water feature on Roosevelt Island, reflecting the water surrounding the island.

  • Removing the gatekeeping nature of human-water interaction in urban areas for adults. 

  • Will serve as a community bonding area that could replace the idea of a school or community pool. 

<Social  Events Aspect>

  • Having ticketed social events that are open to the public, open to only Cornell students, and open only to Roosevelt Island resident. 

  • Partnership with Spotify and Eventbrite to source DJ’s and Musicians for Live Events. 

  • Each event will be customized through different colored lights and music. Creating an extremely immersive experience.

<Business Partnerships Aspect>

  • Ticketing services through Eventbrite.

  • Advertisement through Instagram. 

  • Installation assistance from Related or Wayfair.

  • Speakers and music assistance would be through a partnership with Spotify. 

  • Relationships with food stands and food trucks around the local area. 

  • Possible small product donations from Wayfair. 

<Community Building Aspect>

  • Providing a space of learnable art. 

  • Having an arena to promote local businesses. 

  • Having a destination that will bring money and foot traffic to the island. 

  • Creating community bonding events. 

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Business Strategy: Partnerships / Ancillary Revenue / Community Gathering Events

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The Watering Hole, is a space that will act as a gathering place to build and enforce community. Utilizing sound and light, we have the opportunity to curate music playlists and colors to enhance user experience. In order to build community, we will be holding events that will be limited to certain groups. We will offer events exclusively to Cornell students, with a mix of current music, and red and white lights to foster community, art, and entertainment. In conjunction with live DJ’s, food trucks and drinks The Watering Hole will be a functional art piece that can be altered to serve different communities.


Furthermore, we think that it is important to have events that are limited to only Roosevelt Island residents, as there is a clear dichotomous split between Cornell students and other island residents. These events will not only foster local community interaction, but will provide network opportunities for Cornell students. Additionally, it is important for us to have events that are open to the public, as we wanted to create access to water for the general public and drive tourism to the island; which will in turn lead to more income, interest, and infrastructure. Our partnerships with various companies and advertisements on New York based social media platforms will drive enough initial traffic, which will then be sustained through word of mouth

Pavilion as an interactive medium for adjacent future:

The Watering hole

Cornell AAP & Cornell Tech Collaboration project from the class

"DESIGN & MAKING ACROSS DISCIPLINES: Adaptive Interfaces for a Resilient Future", Fall Semester, 2021

Hoon Yoon, Frances Gregor, Nadia Samman

Working period : Aug.2021 ~ Dec.2021



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