Across the Rooms

The Masketeers

Our Design Process

Strategy

Concept

Design

Across the Rooms, our fort-exhibit, BEGAN TO TAKE SHAPE in MARCH OF 2021 WITH THE CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS to the LBJ WILDFLOWER CENTER's FORTLANDIA EXHIBITION. SELF-DUBBED AS "THE Masketeers," WE ARE COWORKERS AND EXPERTS IN THE FIELD OF OUTDOOR PLAYGROUNDS AND FITNESS SITES AS EMPLOYEES OF KOMPAN,INC, A GLOBAL PLAYGROUND MANUFACTURER WITH AN HQ IN AUSTIN, TEXAS.

All aCROSS THE WORLD, MANY OF US were sent home to work remotely due to Covid-19. as firm believers in universal design, IT BECAME APPARENT THAT THIS UNPRECEDENTED AND RELATABLE EXPERIENCE OF LIVING AMID A PANDEMIC WOULD FORM THE BASIS OF OUR CONCEPT. ADAPTING TO NEW CONSTRAINTS ENCOURAGED US TO TRY new ways to COLLABORATE, draw, and DEVELOP ideas. PARADOXICALLY, THIS NECESSARY SEPARATION IS ALSO WHAT GRANTED US "WINDOWS INTO OUR HOMES" for the first time. WE DISCOVERED A CERTAIN INTIMACY THAT DIFFERED FROM YEARS OF SIDE-BY-SIDE WORKING IN AN OFFICE. REALIZING THAT THESE EXPERIENCES WERE NOT UNIQUE TO US, WE BEGAN TO DEVELOP IDEAS AROUND THIS THEME THAT COULD BE UNIVERSALLY RELATABLE And this drove us to experiment with WAYS to INCORPORATE THEM INTO OUR FORT DESIGN.


THE MASK AS A SYMBOL

as part of this process, we took NOTE OF A NEW KIND OF LITTER IN OUR COMMUNITY: DISCARDED MASKS. WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF these masks, AT ONCE SERVING TO protect us, BUT ALSO visual REMINDERS OF OUR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT? MASKS HAVE TRANSCENDED THEIR UTILITARIAN PURPOSE AND ARE NOW INSTANTLY RECOGNIZABLE SYMBOLS OF THE PANDEMIC. CAN WE FRAME THIS SYMBOL IN A HOPEFUL WAY? HOW CAN WE USE MASKS AS A TOOL OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION?


TOGETHER & APART

An important theme woven into our design is the experience of coming together and being apart. separate in our own rooms, AND IN SMALL "PODS," WE WERE FORCED TO CHANGE OUR WAYS OF RELATING to protect ourselves and others. INDEED, THE VERY DEFINITION OF FORT IS A SAFE AND ENCLOSED SPACE, and implies A DEGREE OF Separation. THERE HAVE BEEN UPS AND DOWNS, PERIODS OF ISOLATION, AND a yearning FOR NORMALCY. "ACROSS THE ROOMS" IS A SPACE WHERE PARTICIPANTS CAN ACTIVELY EXPLORE THESE DIFFICULT CONCEPTS IN A joyful setting, AMID COLOR, TEXTURE, and with OPPORTUNITIES FOR SENSORY PLAY. WE ENCOURAGE MOVEMENT: CRAWLING THROUGH, OVER, UNDER, COMING TOGETHER, AND RUNNING APART. strategically placed windows and peep-holes frame the beautiful landscape and the forts are nestled UNDER THE PROTECTIVE CANOPY OF The ancient live oaks, reminding us that "this too, shall pass."

NATURE AS HEALER

aS outdoor-enthusiasts, WE HAVE LONG BELIEVED IN THE HEALING EFFECT OF NATURE. but the past year showed us THAT MANY OTHERS NOW RECOGNIZE THIS too; an indirect result of the pandemic. WHEN THE USUAL indoor RECREATIONAL OPTIONS WERE NO LONGER AVAILABLE, MANY SOUGHT REFUGE IN NATURE, MAKING THE OUTDOORS ANOTHER PLACE OF SAFETY. this gives us great hope as WE HAVE SEEN THE EXPLOSION OF INTEREST IN PLAYGROUNDS AND PARKS THROUGH OUR WORK. "across the rooms" represents our WISH that this valuing of nature continues long after we have all come out from behind our masks.

THE EXHIBITION

aS much as possible, we have strived for sustainability in every aspect of our design. FOR EXAMPLE, BY UPCYCLING MATERIALS, USING FOUND OBJECTS, AND EMPLOYING MODULAR DESIGN TO MINIMIZE CONSTRUCTION WASTE. WE HAVE ALSO carefully CONSIDERED THE END-OF-LIFE CYCLE OF THESE MATERIALS. FLEXING OUR DESIGN MUSCLES IN THIS WAY HAS BEEN AN EXERCISE IN itself, DRIVEN BY OUR SHARED RESPECT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. we ARE EAGER FOR THE LESSONS TO COME: HOW WILL THE PUBLIC ENGAGE WITH "aCROSS THE rooms" AND whAt can we, as designers, apply moving forward?