Architects Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller, partners at AGENCY, have teamed up with a group of Texas Tech University architecture students to design FLASH INSTALLATION, a pop-up architectural installation made from repurposed traffic barrels. Threaded together, the suspended barrels create a ‘barrel cloud’ that sways en masse, creating patterns of light and shadow. The creative project helped reactivate the underused canopy and parking lot into an engaging public space.

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The project, entitled FLASH INSTALLATION, repurposes common roadway barriers and reflectors, adapting them to new and unexpected use as a suspended, reflective ‘barrel cloud’. 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. Engaging, pro-active design is making its way to the vibrant binational metroplex, and creating future possibilities for student, professional, and community partnerships. AGENCY, working with TTU and its community partners, seeks to strengthen the design community within the southwest border region – and beyond – through new opportunities and re-adaptations of existing underused infrastructures, re-imagined as public spaces.


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