Agency Architecture and a team of students transformed a dormant infrastructural artifact, steps from the US/Mexico border, into a vibrant event space.
Architects Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller, partners at Agency, directed a team of architecture students at Texas Tech University to install a one-night-only architectural installation beneath the underused canopy.
The project, entitled Flash Installation, repurposes common roadway barriers and reflectors, adapting them to new and unexpected use as a suspended, reflective “barrel cloud”.
The barrels, which are readily available for temporary use at minimal cost, provided the ideal ‘found material’ for transforming the super-scaled space for the one night event. The barrels’ banded reflectors, varying suspension heights, and collective swaying movement visually activated the space, creating new patterns of light and shadow for events below. A complementary ground reflector installation occupied empty parking spaces to edge a temporary dance floor, signaling new use. The installation effectively reclaimed the canopy as public space, where food trucks, people, music, and lights came together for one night. After the installation, the barrels returned to service throughout the city, but the changing perceptions of the canopy space remain. Plans are underway to repeat the collaborative installation each year, using the space as a laboratory for investigations in space and material.
The project signals a growing interest in design culture and public space in the emerging border city of El Paso. Constituents seek new prospects in which to create different types of permanent and impermanent public spaces.
Flash Installation, El Paso, Texas
Project: Agency Architecture and students from Texas Tech University
Completion: December 2015