Since 2012, I’ve enjoyed creating interactive play spaces for kids at an annual festival held along the American River in Coloma, California. Whether building something new, assembling large structures or making little houses, the kids and their families always get to paint them. Both old and young take great pleasure in participating.
Recently, I designed a 1,200-stall parking structure for the City of Fairfield. A large structure at six levels high and 600 feet long, it runs parallel to Interstate 80 at West Texas Street in Fairfield. This structure will be one of the largest in the region.
With tens of thousands of cars passing by each day, I had to conceive of a way to turn the garage into something the community could embrace. The facade is made of a veil of vertical fins expressed to freeway traffic as a flowing fabric – blown by the ubiquitous winds Fairfield is known for. During the light hours, the facade works to increase daylighting inside the structure. At night, it becomes a canvas for community-created art via a low-resolution LED light display.
Voila! The perfect marriage. The content will be generated by the residents of Fairfield and shown in a continuous slow rotation. As an artist as well as an architect, I’m always fascinated with perception and like to engage people by sharing their expressions. Just like the festival along the river, what better way to get the community involved in something typically benign and often undesirable.
At the 2015 Festival of Little Houses, I created 10 fabric-wrapped towers the kids painted with pigment dyes. The results were perfectly abstract and quite beautiful.
Here’s the plan: Working with the City of Fairfield, we will hold a festival in a major City park near the project site. At this festival, fabric-wrapped frames will be available for the public to paint. With a focus on collaboration, each fabric canvas will be large enough to invite multiple people to contribute. After the art is created, the structures will be illuminated and placed in public viewing spaces for a short time. Before that happens, though, our team will photograph them all and transpose the work into a digital format best suited for the parking structure LED facade. It’s going to be quite a sight to see!