Every child on a swing has pumped his legs frantically, wishing he could go higher. Well, how’s this for “higher,” kid? It’s a swing strapped to the bottom of a hot air balloon, and if you live in Queens, it could be coming soon to a sculpture park near you.
Don’t worry: the idea here isn’t to let a kid climb on the swing seat, then untie the anchor and let ‘er rip. Rather, the so-called Cloud Hopper would be tethered to the ground by two polypropylene ropes, lowering itself to the ground to pick up a rider. Once he or she is safely on board, the Cloud Hopper balloon would lift itself off the ground, dangling a swinger no more than 8 or 10 feet. In addition, pipes connected to the hot air balloon’s gas tank would allow it to be raised and lowered from the ground, no Phileas Fogg required.
Designed by Australian architect Jesse Lockhart-Krause, the colorful Cloud Hopper balloon swing was designed as part of the Folly 2015 sculpture competition. Organized by the Architectural League, Folly is an annual design program established in 2011 to explore the “intersections and divergences between architecture and sculpture through the framework of an architectural folly.” The winner of Folly 2015 will receive a $5,000 production grant to make his or her project a reality in Queens’ Socrates Sculpture Park.
Possible safety issues aside, Lockhart-Krause thinks the Cloud Hopper would be cheap to create. The designer plans on funding 70% of the Cloud Hopper by borrowing equipment from New York’s “vibrant” hot air ballooning community. They’d then be returned after the exhibition was completed.
If Lockhart-Krause wins the Folly 2015, he would begin a two-month residency in the Socrates Sculpture Park’s outdoor studio starting in March, and his Cloud Hopper balloon could open to the public starting in May. I claim dibs on the first ride!