On a sunny weekend in October, under the dappled light of several sprawling oaks, Sean Guess, AIA, of Faye and Walker Architecture watched as his latest completed project, “Color Trail,” was overrun by a small army of children and their parents. They wove, hung, jumped, and bounced through the little pavilion, one of 10 temporary installations commissioned by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin for “Fortlandia,” an annual event designed to foster curiosity and play through the built environment.
The installation was simple: Seven linear 6-foot-by-6-foot bays of 1.5-inch white tube steel created a 42-foot-long open rectangular prism slightly lofted from the ground below. Attached to the white frame was a rigorous series of 2-inch-wide white polyester webbing that ran continuously up and over all four sides, creating an occupiable, porous shell. Inside the shell were two more canted planes of polyester bands, one running horizontally on a slight incline, and one running vertically from left to right. These inner intersecting planes popped with blue and red hues, colors derived from the Texas bluebonnet and Indian paintbrush, two of Lady Bird Johnson’s favorite wildflowers.
“As an ethos, we are always trying to be very editorial with our work, from small renovations to new residences,” Guess says. “An installation piece such as this, with little to no program, allows us to distill our formal goals into an architecture that can be a little more experimental and uniform in its expression, allowing the environment to activate the object to provide its dynamism.”
Fabricated onsite by Alejandro Razo, the structure was up for three months. Then the steel was reused by a local contractor, and the polyester bands were donated to Austin Creative Reuse, where they are now available to the public for any applications to which they may be well suited.
Christopher Ferguson, AIA, is an architect at Clickspring Design and co-founder of DO.GROUP.