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Eco-Friendly 'Burble Bup' Pavilion Coming to Governors Island

By Julie Shapiro | April 18, 2011 11:57am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

GOVERNORS ISLAND — An environmentally friendly pavilion made of soil and iridescent inflatables is on its way to Governors Island this summer.

The whimsical hut, called "Burble Bup," will host planned and impromptu performances all summer long as part of FIGMENT, an annual arts festival on the island.

"Governors Island is a place to experiment," said David Koren, executive producer of FIGMENT. "It's a bit of a blank slate, a blank canvas. It's a place where we can physically create the things we imagine."

Burble Bup, by the sustainable design firm Bittertang, features walls made of soil-filled fabric tubes and a roof made of egg- and doughnut-shaped balloons. It beat more than 80 other submissions to win FIGMENT's second annual City of Dreams Pavilion competition.

The idea behind the competition, which is also sponsored by the Emerging New York Architects Committee and the Structural Engineers Association of New York, is to create a zero-impact, green structure that can serve as both a comfortable gathering space and a thought-provoking foray into the future of architecture.

"Burble Bup is a secret hideout that lures people into its soft and magical interior through the use of a colorfully inflatable roof," the project's backers wrote in a statement. "Here they are enticed to stay, mingling among new friends and upon plush soil tubes. The pavilion isn’t a space of circulation, but of rest and social interaction."

Assuming FIGMENT gets the required permits and finishes raising money, Burble Bup will appear on the island's Liggett Terrace by Memorial Day, Koren said. At the end of the summer, the soil will be used for landscaping on the island, the fabric will be composted and the inflatables will become toys for the city's pools.

Also this summer, FIGMENT is bringing back its popular artist-designed miniature-golf course. The theme for this year's 14-hole course is "Bugs and Features," from the oft-quoted computer programming line, "That's not a bug! It's a feature!"

Many of the artists took the theme literally, creating a mini-golf hole straddled by a giant spider or crawling with ants. Other holes reference composting, television and a computer's circuitry board. Twelve of the holes are new, but two are returning favorites from last summer: one that looks like a Venus flytrap and one that recalls the Skee-Ball arcade game.

Governors Island opens for the season on May 27, and FIGMENT's annual arts festival will be held June 10 to 12.