City of Dreams Pavilion: Oculi

FIGMENT’s winning 2018 City of Dreams Pavilion proposal by Austin+Mergold (A+M) reuses old metal grain bins (silos), vestiges of the American agro-industrial age, in ways not unlike how medieval inhabitants of Rome reoccupied the remains of the Ancient Empire–with a bizarre combination of pragmatism and poetry. The grain bin is our contemporary spolia, and as such can be both useful and fanciful.

The bins, which dot the fields of upstate New York, have been brought to the City, establishing a visual connection between urban and rural modes of living. Out of the bins, a field of elevated oculi are constructed to frame unobstructed views of the sky and track the path of the sun, producing a range of shadow patterns below augmented by color and sound. These elevated rooms, with their interior walls painted a particular color of the daytime sky, invite viewers to negotiate their path below the structures. Eventually, viewers will look up and the color of the walls of the silo will match the color of the sky at the moment of the viewing.

Following the de-installation of Oculi, the bins will be reconstructed as an experimental housing cluster in Central New York. There, an interior view into the bin will occasionally reveal a color of a New York City summer sky.

About Austin+Mergold (A+M)
Austin+Mergold (A+M) is an architecture, landscape and design practice founded by Aleksandr Mergold, AIA and Jason Austin. A+M see their work process as slow architecture. Believing that it is preferable to rethink and repurpose existing resources than to tap new ones, A+M infiltrate existing systems that are responsible for built form, rather than reinvent the wheel each time. A+M explore local vernacular conditions to discover how an efficient (and economical) reconfiguration of available materials, forms and methods, informed by the latest advances in technology, can result in an improved quality of life for communities and individuals. A+M thrive on solving design problems around time and budget constraints, using common (often, unglamorous) materials and utilizing the long-established local methodologies in new ways.

FIGMENT catalyzes and celebrates an abundance of creativity and passion, challenging artists and our communities to find new ways to create, share, think, and dream. FIGMENT’s free annual participatory arts event began in New York City in 2007 and has expanded to have 62 events in 19 cities in 5 countries. In New York, FIGMENT hosts a weekend-long participatory art event and an annual summer-long exhibition on Governors Island. For more information, visit

FIGMENT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization entirely funded by grants and individual donations. FIGMENT accepts no corporate sponsorship of any kind. FIGMENT NYC is supported by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, as well as by the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.