Flow | Austin USA | Design Workshop

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Waller Creek runs through central Austin from Waterloo Park at 15th street, bisecting the UT campus and along the eastern edge of downtown terminating at Lady Bird Lake. In April of 2011, the City of Austin began the construction of a flood control tunnel along the 1.5 mile stretch of Waller Creek. Upon completion, the tunnel will remove 28 acres from the floodplain, protect the creek from erosion, and help clean the water. Visionary leaders saw the opportunity to catalyze on this investment and transform the 1.5 mile section of the creek into a chain of parks and connected trails. The organization leading the charge, the Waller Creek Conservancy, aims to involve the community in the revitalization of the Waller Creek urban area, which will be under construction for the next decade or more.

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To call attention to the transformative potential of the Creek, the Waller Creek Conservancy held a temporary event that featured five site-specific, light-based installations that illuminated the banks and bridges along four blocks of the city’s historic Waller Creek. On the evening of November 13, over 1,000 people came out into the unusually cold night with hot chocolate in hand to experience the event.

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The process for the project began with five artist teams meeting regularly to help define the program for Creek Show, and working together to plan the process and the event. Each of the five teams came up with their own design idea, and while each team worked individually to create their own contribution, they all supported and helped each other along the way, making this a very positive, collaborative experience.
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Design Workshop’s installation, “Flow” is a kinetic installation that aims to capture and reveal wind patterns within the Waller Creek corridor with light and shadows. Strategically located at the lively intersection of Waller Creek and 6th Street, Flow emulates the rhythm, and wind patterns on the surface of the creek at the 6th Street grade level. At this vibrant section of Downtown Austin, the creek bed is reinforced with concrete and little trace of nature remains. The presence of nature can only be seen in the wind patterns that are channeled by the tall buildings that surround the creek on both sides. Lightweight tapestries span across the railing of the creek at varying heights and tension to create interest and variety as the wind moves through. Lights project onto the fabric from above creating an ever-changing landscape for humans to interact and interpret the vision for the future of the corridor.

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Flow | Plan – Design Workshop
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Flow | Rendering – Design Workshop

Project Title | “Flow”

Project Type |  Temporary Installation

Location | Austin, TX

Lead Designer | Design Workshop (Steven Spears)

Photography credit | Design Workshop, Inc. (Isabelle Encela)

Additional Project Credits | 

Design Workshop Team Members | Steven Spears,  Rachel Tepper, Conners Ladner, Alex Ramirez, Jessica Zarowitz

Light Night Organizers  | Meredith Bossin, Ingrid Spencer

Industry Resource |  Mark Herzer, Spectrum Lighting

Other Participating Artist Teams | Thoughtbarn, Baldridge Architects, Legge Lewis Legge, Jason Sowell

About Damian Holmes 3308 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/