February 17th – April 9th, 2016

Press & Members Preview: Tuesday, February 16th – 6-7 pm

Public Opening: Tuesday, February 16th – 7-9 pm

Conference – Encounters That Never Happened: Saturday, 2/27 – 12-6 pm


About Closed Worlds


What do outer space capsules, submarines, and office buildings have in common? Each was conceived as a closed system: a self-sustaining physical environment demarcated from its surroundings by a boundary that does not allow for the transfer of matter or energy.

The history of twentieth century architecture, design, and engineering has been strongly linked to the conceptualization and production of closed systems. As partial reconstructions of the world in time and in space, closed systems identify and secure the cycling of materials necessary for the sustenance of life. Contemporary discussions about global warming, recycling, and sustainability have emerged as direct conceptual constructs related to the study and analysis of closed systems.


Closed Worlds, curated by Lydia Kallipoliti, exhibited an archive of 41 historical living prototypes built over the last century that present an unexplored genealogy of closed resource regeneration systems. The exhibition also features Some World Games, a virtual reality ecosystem by Farzin Farzin that presents a contemporary 42nd prototype selected as the winner of the Closed Worlds Design Competition hosted by Storefront in November 2015.


From the space program to countercultural architectural groups experimenting with autonomous living, Closed Worlds documents a larger disciplinary transformation and the rise of a new environmental consensus in the form of a synthetic naturalism, where the laws of nature and metabolism are displaced from the domain of wilderness to the domain of cities and buildings. While deriving from a deeply rooted fantasy of architecture producing nature, Closed Worlds integrates these ideas into the very fabric of reality in our contemporary cities and buildings.



About the 42nd Prototype


Some World Games, the winning installation of the Closed Worlds Design Competition, is an immersive environment that urges visitors to explore and experiment with virtual prototypes generated from the archive of 41 closed systems exhibited as part of the larger Closed Worlds exhibition. Participants are guided through the installation on a looped track that channels their kinetic motion through an orbiting virtual environment.


Some World Games harnesses the expended energy of exhibition exploration—the acts of reading, viewing, and wandering—and puts this agency on display. Entering the installation is a decisive act in which the visitor consents to a moment of vulnerability, plugging into the universe of the archive and engaging with its content through virtual immersion in physical space.


For more information about the competition and the winning design, see here.



Closed Worlds: Encounters That Never Happened


On Saturday, February 27th, Storefront and The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union will jointly present a public conference, Closed World: Encounters That Never Happened. Presenters and discussants will engage in debate and discussion on the history and future of closed systems in architecture and design. Participants include such luminaries as Reyner Banham, Buckminster Fuller, Jacques Cousteau, Victor Olgyay, Neil ArmstrongRay and Charles Eames, Walt Disney, Peter Van Dresser, Hans Hollein, and John McHale.


For more information and to see the list of participants as it is updated, see here. RSVP for the conference here.




Closed Worlds Exhibition:

Curator and Principal Researcher: Lydia Kallipoliti

Research: Alyssa Goraieb, Hamza Hasan, Tiffany Montanez, Catherine Walker, Royd Zhang, Miguel Lantigua-Inoa, Emily Estes, Danielle Griffo and Chendru Starkloff

Graphic Design and Exhibition Design: Pentagram/Natasha Jen with Melodie Yashar and JangHyun Han

Feedback Drawings: Tope Olujobi

Lexicon Editor: Hamza Hasan

Special Thanks: Bess Krietemeyer, Andreas Theodoridis, Cecilia Ramos, Alex Miller


42nd Prototype, Some World Games:

Installation Design, Concept, and FabricationFarzin Farzin (Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Sharif Anous, John Arnold)

Fabrication Assistance: Joseph Vidich, Kin & Company

Lighting Design AssistanceChristopher Adam Architectural Illumination Engineering


This exhibition is supported by the Graham Foundation and the New York State Council for the Arts. The research for this exhibition has been supported by Syracuse University School of Architecture and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


42nd prototype 3D printing resources provided by MakerBot.

3D printing provided by Voodoo Manufacturing.


General support for Storefront exhibitions is provided by the New York State Council for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Arup, KPF, Sciame Construction, DS+R, and ODA.


This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Michael-Angel Kallipolitis (1982-2016), who lived in a closed world and left ours too soon on January 5, 2016.