A series of programs exploring the past, present and future of Pataphysics - the "science of the particular" - in Philadelphia and beyond



An exhibition of retreat spaces by architectural students, inspired by the work of Alfred Jarry. What would be your ideal tripode? What would be your ideal place to think and write?

Organizing Institutions

Slought, PennDesign


Aaron Levy, Winka Dubbeldam, Simon Kim

Process initiated


Opens to public





4017 Walnut
Philadelphia, PA 19104


50% Formal - 50% Informal

One of the last designs of Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), the founder of pataphysics, was an architectural structure known as "Le Tripode." It was designed to offer protection to his canoe and bicycle, which he hung from the rafters to prevent rats from eating the frame and tires. The structure was 3.33 meters at center height, and had a total footprint of 3.33 x 3.67 meters. Yet "Le Tripode" was something more, as befits pataphysics, which Jarry defined as "the science of the imaginary." "Patarchitecture" is the name we have given to this extension of pataphysics in the domain of architecture.

This exhibition takes Jarry's "Le Tripode" - an applied practice which joins architecture and pataphysics - as a source of inspiration. Slought and PennDesign have invited first-year graduate students in architecture studying full-scale tectonics and materiality to develop prototypes in response to these questions: "What would be your ideal tripode? What would be your ideal place to think and write? How would you conceptually imagine something that is not just a retreat but a dynamic retreat?"

Two interactive and inhabitable prototypes featured at Slought, alongside accompanying documentation. They will be exhibited inside an approximate reproduction of the Jarry's Paris apartment, whose low ceiling of 150 centimeters, or approximately 5 feet, matched his small height. It will also be displayed adjacent to an approximate reproduction of Jarry's "Le Tripode."

Please join us for a special reception and presentation at Slought on Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 6pm with the curators and exhibiting architects.

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"Le Tripode" was an alternative machine for living, one that was a space for creativity and movement. Much like Jarry's structure, we can think of Martin Heiddeger's hut in the Black Forest of Germany and Ludwig Wittengenstein's wooden house in the mountains of Norway as philosophical constructions. They appear at first as spaces of stasis, yet function as spaces of energy, rhythm, and movement.

By calling a structure that had four supports a tripod, instead of a quadropod, Jarry created a deliberate misnomer. What is the function of language and naming in architecture?


Deployable Worm
Team: Rajika Goel, Emily Gruendel, Alex Tahinos

Apophenic Apparatus
Team: Dan Lau, Phoebe Hiunam Leung, Chistopher Mulford, Chi Zhang

Special thanks: Katie McBride


A partial reconstruction of Jarry's "Le Tripode" will be built by Stacy Petty