About / Map + Directions / Credits

The Grotto

Aranda \ Lasch


Designers: Benjamin Aranda, Chris Lasch

Based in New York, Aranda \ Lasch takes an experimental approach to procedural design. In 2005 the firm was a YAP finalist with their entry The Grotto. As the name suggests, the firm had no interest in lightness.

Q&A with Aranda \ Lasch

MoMA PS1: You seem to have started out in a bit of an unusual way compared to other firms. What's the story behind your practice?
Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch, Aranda \ Lasch: Initially the idea for our practice was basically to rent a van and travel the country—this was back when network technologies and wireless began opening up a lot of possibilities to learn on the go. It never happened. But we've always been interested in the tools used in architecture and have always tried to be critical of these tools. At a certain point we began making our own computational tools and realized that we could make structures that organize space and put forth a way to practice architecture.

MoMA PS1: How did you incorporate the program in your design idea for YAP?
Aranda \ Lasch: Our strategy was very intentional from the beginning. All the other firms had been successfully exploring roof landscapes and we expected others in the competition to explore similar architectural canopies. The succession of urban beach interpretations for MoMA PS1's WarmUp is like this weird game of telephone among past participants. Instead, we wanted our contribution to be really dense, interiorized, and heavy. Heaviness is the complete opposite of every other project.

MoMA PS1: Have you been able to use the ideas you developed after the competition?
Aranda \ Lasch: In no small way did The Grotto establish a direction for the office. It was the first time we'd ever explored in an uncompromised and complete way the possibilities of aggregated assemblies and the limits of modularity. We didn't win but it was one of those projects that has had a life long after its due date. We’ve been trying to build The Grotto ever since. The project, the idea, was a real gift from the competition to our practice.