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Ever wonder what a mini golf course would look like if the holes were designed by architects and designers? TURF: A Mini-Golf Project is a pop-up community destination organized and produced by Materials & Applications that explores the ecology, economics, and social conditions of Los Angeles in a vacant Echo Park lot.

Nine teams of architects were selected to design miniature golf holes that reflected a condition of the city around themes including topography, water, housing, and tectonics. And on a warm summer evening, a dozen lucky de LaB fans got to play the 9-hole course, with commentary by M&A director Jia Gu. Here’s a brief overview of each hole and how it was designed to address LA’s challenges.

Practice Mat by Besler & Sons 

The course’s first hole is a modular turf application that explores the qualitys of materiality and texture. Using a variety of turf grades, multiple configurations of practice mats can be secured as a larger par through tongue-and-groove style joinery, or packed into a carrying case for easy transit and storage.


Putt-to-Fit by Knowhow Shop

An exploration into the materiality of bent plywood manipulates the rigidity of wood in the tradition of Charles and Ray Eames. The structural core of the second hole is six eighth-inches sheets of plywood stacked and molded in a press, altered with sartorial techniques including darts, cuts, and stitches to achieve the hills and swells of the natural landscape.

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The Electric Palm Tree Turbine House by Ordinary Architecture

Smitten with LA’s 1970s and ‘80s architecture and palm trees, TURF’s third installation riffs on the post-modern pastiche of M0rphosis’ 2468 house and the materiality of Frank Gehry. Corrugated steel palm fronds–which rotate like a traditional wind mill–affixed to a tall, slender structure address issues of densification, verticality, and renewable energy.

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Club LA by Andrea Kamilaris, Brian Koehler, and Drew Stanley

Designed and built in Chicago, the fourth hole allows players to design their own adventure: mini-golf below, table pool on top. The design and installation can also symbolize the ways we reach California as immigrants, says Jia read project around Syrian migration crisis, says Jia Gu, one of the directors of Materials & Applications. “It’s like the manifest destiny golf course.”

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Sink by Kyle May

What appears to be an easy play on stable ground actually feels like an earthquake once you step up onto the asphalt-colored platform. Instead, a raised bed filled with water and wrapped in seamless rubber sheeting that shifts under points of pressure symbolizes a difficult relationship with earth and water.

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Pie in the Sky by Heyday

Heyday confronts economics of the American dream: property ownership. A stretch of green turf is topped by a suspended balloon carrying the sixth hole, a meditation on the inaccessibility of home ownership in LA and the delicate state of the suburban greenscape.

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Terrains by TAG-LA

The digitally-fabricated seventh hole draws its topography from desertscapes, including hills, valleys, and sink holes. This installation is also a non-linear challenge: You can select your path.

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Endemic’s Gilded Sphere on Sticks

A fascination with the superficial material culture in LA and an admiration for Griffith Observatory resulted in a project made from fur, turf, and a gold painted-dome, which intentionally and symbolically chips and fades over time.

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Artificial Turf by G!LL!S

Inspired by Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack the course inverts against the laws of physics to reinforce the comedic character’s mantra in the film: The ball has no respect for you. G!LL!S brings the blue sky down to the ground, the ceiling to the floor, and the grass to the underground.

TURF is open until July 31. If you couldn’t make our event with Materials & Applications, don’t miss this chance to experience the course! After this run, a few holes will be installed permanently at the Craft and Folk Art Museum.