Materials & Applications, in collaboration with designer Kate Moxham, has installed an experimental shade structure at the 826LA literacy center in Echo Park.
The installation culminates several months of workshops focused on exploring new methods of fastening, folding, and layering of Tyvek, a material most commonly used in house wraps and mailing envelopes. The project represents the latest in M&A's series of MatterApp projects, which are built through iterative experimentation at their Silver Lake workshop/exhibition space and are open to the public with the intention of sharing all of their research outcomes.
"When 826LA asked us for a shade structure we jumped at the opportunity to support their organization because they inspire us with their unique vision of how to engage the city," said Oliver Hess, co/director of M&A. For many years, both organizations have provided a unique public experience to passers-by on the street who likely have no idea what creativity is going on behind the veil of a public exterior: 826LA runs the Time Travel Mart, while M&A has its unique experimental architecture exhibition courtyard.
The installation at 826LA, which is entitled Superscript, uses hundreds of Tyvek squares fastened to wire frames that span the center's outdoor reading courtyard. It appears as a book that has flown apart, gradually undulating in the breeze, it has been compared to a flock of birds and a wave of the ocean.
The structure provides shade and also creates a space that displays the benefits of 826LA's literacy programs: The squares are perforated with short selections of student writings that come from the center's workshops and tutoring. Samples of the students writings are revealed as points of light within the canopy's suspended layers and shift as the sun moves overhead.
The entire piece, from prototyping to installation, was supported by the efforts of numerous volunteers from both M&A and 826LA and was funded by the Ahmanson Foundation with additional support from Material Concepts and the Pasadena Art Alliance. The piece can be viewed from the alleyway behind 826LA located at 1714 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026.
Photos: Scott Mayoral