A team from Cambridge-based INVIVIA, comprising Harvard Graduate School of Design professors and recent alumni, is one of four winners in the 2015 Field Constructs Design Competition (FCDC). The two-stage competition tasked entrants to design, fabricate, and install a site-specific intervention at the Circle Acres Nature Preserve in Austin, Texas. It drew 82 entries, with 18 finalists announced in May.
The cross-disciplinary GSD team comprises Bradley Cantrell (MLA ’03), associate professor of landscape architectural technology and director of the MLA program; Allen Sayegh, associate professor in practice of architectural technology; Stefano Andreani (MDes ’13); Craig Reschke (MLA ’15); and Ziyi Zhang (MLA ’14).
Their multimedia project 99 White Balloons responds to the Circle Acres site’s environment in subtle ways and elucidates differences in the preserve’s various landscape types. The project consists of a 1,200-foot cable festooned with glowing balloons and anchored by a series of towers at intermittent locations, collectively forming a floating ring. The anchor towers, in turn, are equipped with microphones and proximity sensors.
When a person or animal approaches an anchor tower, a motor slowly draws the balloon chain closer to ground level at that anchor, while the intensity of the LED lights under each balloon increases in waves outward from that point. As the visitor moves away, the opposite actions occur—the chain moves away, and the lights dim.
The towers themselves are also equipped with LEDs that respond to small temperature variations.
FCDC’s mission is to explore innovative design ideas from designers, architects, landscape architects, and artists through works that actively engage with natural and cultural factors specific to Austin and the surrounding region, using full-scale installation as a medium. The FCDC also seeks to foster a dialogue between the participating designers and the broader public.
“These projects marry experimentation with design innovation while uniquely addressing the history and ecology of the competition site,” FCDC wrote in a statement.
99 White Balloons and the other three winning projects will be on view at Circle Acres from November 14 to 22 and will be featured as a special event of the East Austin Studio Tour. A concurrent exhibition of the 18 jury-selection finalists will occur at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture from November 13 to 23.