A bright, spinning orb invites people, young and old, to play inside its colorful, curved walls. Sitting in a public square, the GiRA carousel might look more at home on a school playground, but its designers are Micro Atelier de Arquitectura e Arte (MAARQA) had something else in mind. The carousel was installed temporarily in Largo de São Domingos in Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, to coincide with the city’s midsummer festival. Its colorful facade was constructed from unlikely materials; the brightly hued heads of traditional São João hammers are woven tightly into the carousel’s outer frame to form a whimsical play thing on a grand scale.
The hammers that make up the carousel’s exterior are a traditional component of the biggest annual party in the city, the Festa de São João do Porto (St. John’s Festival of Porto). Each year, the midsummer festival invites celebrants to hit one another on the head with the colorful plastic mallets (among other peculiar activities). Using hundreds of those same hammers in the carousel elevates the playful tradition to new heights, infusing a whisper of modern art as well.
Visitors can climb right inside the GiRA carousel and manually work a swivel mechanism to spin the whole structure, much like a child’s merry-go-round. Once spinning at full clip, the carousel’s colorful exterior becomes a psychedelic blur. MAARQA’s play on the recognizable plastic hammers was meant to inspire revelry and enhance the festivities of the celebration, and it’s safe to say the GiRA carousel accomplished that goal and more.
Images via Carlos Lobão