Built in 1962, the FLIP (FLoating Instrument Platform) has been used as an at-sea research vessel, studying below-surface wave motion. Because any vibration from instruments, motors, and other moving parts disturb the results, the ship is powerless, towed into position to execute experiments. When in position, it fills one end with water, flipping it from a horizontal position to a vertical position. The bow points straight up, the stern reaches 300ft straight down into the ocean. Why is this so interesting, other than the look of a capsized vessel?

The ship must accommodate a simultaneous plan and section. The plan becomes elevation and the elevation becomes plan. FLIP deals with this logistical issue in a variety of ways. Some equipment and furniture must be unbolted and moved 90degrees. Some items, like plumbing fixtures (toilet, sinks, etc.) are redundant, with two identical fixtures mounted 90degrees to each other. Some more complicated components, such as the kitchen, rotates to fit the current orientation. Amazing.

I think of para-site, by Diller+Scofidio, installed at MoMA in 1989. This is often discussed as a techno-voyeuristic project, what with all the TVs and CC cameras. But the beauty of the project is the attempt to establish multiple data (as in datums) for up and down. Angled mirrors, chairs on ceilings, plan views of revolving doors shown in elevation: all work to establish interchangeable plan/section orientations.


Redundant Sinks

Redundant sinks



Diller+Scofidio, Para-Site (1989)

Diller+Scofidio, Para-Site (1989)


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