Designers Picked To Create Innovative Shade Structures To Address Warming World


8/1/20238 months ago

Past projects by (clockwise from top left) Carolina Aragon; DCVL+Maswood team; Gabriel Cira and Matthew Okazaki; Alejandro Saldarriaga; the MIRROR team; and Calvin Zhong and Justin Brazier.
Past projects by (clockwise from top left) Carolina Aragon; DCVL+Maswood team; Gabriel Cira and Matthew Okazaki; Alejandro Saldarriaga; the MIRROR team; and Calvin Zhong and Justin Brazier.

Designers Picked To Create Innovative Shade Structures To Address Warming World

Six design teams have been selected to create innovative shade structures around Cambridge to address our warming world. The City of Cambridge’s Shade Is Social Justice program will provide cooling and use the power of design to prompt imagination, community-building, and action to help the community adapt to global warming.

Cambridge has budgeted $162,000 for six projects that are scheduled to be installed in 2024 and 2025 at Jill Brown-Rhone Park, Donnelly Field, Russell Field, and three additional locations across the city. Each approved project will receive a budget of approximately $27,000.

Teams developing projects to be installed in 2024:

• Gabriel Cira and Matthew Okazaki, Cambridge

• The MIRROR team: Jeff Goldenson, Kyrk Morris, Amon Millner, Will Adams, Debbie Bonilla, Kini Udovicki, Levi Bedall, August Lehrecke, Matt Muller, and Yusuke Obuchi, Cambridge, Providence, and Tokyo

• Alejandro Saldarriaga, Cambridge

Teams developing projects to be installed in 2025:

• Carolina Aragon, Northampton, Massachusetts

• DCVL+Maswood team: David De Celis, Amy Van Lauwe, and Fatema Maswood, Somerville, Cambridge and Providence

• Calvin Zhong and Justin Brazier, Cambridge and Boston

(Read their full biographies below.)

Shade Is Social Justice is led by Claudia Zarazua, Arts and Cultural Planning Director for the City of Cambridge, and Lillian Hsu, Cambridge Arts Director of Public Art & Exhibitions.

Studies have shown that shade can cool surfaces between 20 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit when compared to unshaded surfaces. (1) Cambridge’s pilot project will demonstrate the creative contributions artists and designers bring to the challenge of building community resilience in the face of global warming. The shade structure prototypes will be installed in hubs of neighborhood activity on a temporary basis. In total, Shade is Social Justice presents a city-wide exhibition for all to experience. The program aims for the shade structures to become places for social connection, a key ingredient in building community resilience. Artists will have the opportunity to demonstrate the power of design to prompt thought, imagination, and action on the issue of heat exposure and draw attention to heat relief disparities across neighborhoods.

Shade Is Social Justice was initially funded by a $100,000 Accelerating Climate Resiliency grant from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The City of Cambridge has identified additional funds to increase the number of artists and sites. The budget includes mitigation funds from New England Development, the developer of CambridgeSide.

A call for designers was announced in spring 2023. A panel of community members selected the six winning designers from 18 applicants from the region based on past work and interviews with the candidates.

The City of Cambridge continues to strengthen our climate resilience and preparedness. Actions include a new ordinance requiring large commercial buildings to eliminate the use of fossil fuels by 2035, an electric vehicle charging program, and improving infrastructure for bicycle and bus transportation. Shade Is Social Justice is part of this ongoing effort, using the power of art and design to shape perception, stimulate discussion on the challenges, and find solutions.

The Shade Is Social Justice project team includes staff from multiple departments: Cambridge Arts, Community Development Department, the Department of Public Works, and the Public Health Department. The project team is part of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s regional Resilience Community of Practice, which supports grantees, advances better practices, and reduces barriers to progress.

(1) Akbari, H., D. Kurn, et al. 1997. Peak power and cooling energy savings of shade trees. Energy and Buildings 25:139–148.

Design Team Biographies:

Carolina Aragon: Carolina Aragón is an associate professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the director of Art for Public Good Group. Her award-winning creative work blends artistry and transdisciplinary practices that bring together research, craft, and community engagement to address issues of climate change and environmental justice. Carolina’s artwork has been recognized by national and international organizations. In 2021, her FutureSHORELINE project was awarded the Climate Change Communication Award “Rebecca Ballestra” by the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change. Carolina was named as one of the top 25 Creative Revolutionaries by the CODAworx organization in 2020. Her artwork has been displayed at the World Bank’s Art of Resilience Exhibition 2019 in Washington, DC, as well as showcased in multiple venues, including the U.S. National Park Service’s video: 100 Years of Arts in the Parks.

Gabriel Cira and Matthew Okazaki: Gabriel Cira and Matthew Okazaki practice collaboration – with community groups, nonprofits, scientists, advocates, artists, students, and friends. They believe common-izing spatial thinking and material knowledge helps build collective power and a sense of belonging in the public realm. Cira is a licensed architect and Assistant Professor in the History of Art at MassArt. He received a Master in Architecture from Princeton University. Okazaki is a Professor of the Practice in the History of Art and Architecture at Tufts University and received a Master of Architecture from Harvard University.

DCVL+Maswood: As a team, De Celis, Maswood, and Van Lauwe connected over a shared interest in ecological materials, passive architecture, and public spatial interventions. David De Celis, a Founding Partner of DCVL Design, is a registered Architect and instructor. His research on the interrelationship between architecture, the arts, and design through the lenses of history, sociocultural, and socioeconomic considerations, examines our relationships with natural and built environments. David received his M-Arch from Harvard’s GSD. Amy Van Lauwe, a Founding Partner of DCVL Design, is a registered architect, passive house specialist, college instructor and former graphic designer. Her background in political science and architecture led to a passion for integrating sustainable practices, social virtue and inclusive design. Amy is an alumna of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Boston College and the Boston Architectural College. Fatema Maswood is a designer, researcher, and educator. Their work integrates the study of hydrological systems, agroecology, food justice, stormwater infrastructure, and approaches to participatory design. Maswood earned their Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington in Seattle and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Barnard College.

The MIRROR is an interdisciplinary team composed of Buildingways, Citizens of the World, Equity Roadmap, Olin College of Engineering, and Pneuhaus alongside international architectural collaborator Yusuke Obuchi Laboratory. The group brings expertise from community organizing to computer science, from restorative justice to youth-centered placemaking. We are guided by the question: “What can we do together, as a network of nonprofit partners, a community, and a college, that we can't do alone?”

Alejandro Saldarriaga: Alejandro Saldarriaga Rubio is a Colombian architect who was born and raised in Bogota. He has had an international professional trajectory, having lived and worked in various countries including Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States. He holds a master's degree in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In 2020, he founded his architecture practice, ALSAR-ATELIER, during the midst of the pandemic. The studio is dedicated to investigating low-cost and low-tech design solutions for global states of emergency, focusing on sustainable construction methods and community engagement. He currently resides in Cambridge MA and will be joining the Northeastern University Faculty as a Research/ Teaching fellow for the 2023-2024 academic term.

Calvin Zhong + Justin Brazier: Justin Brazier is an architectural designer based in Boston, interested in sustainable architecture, housing, food security, and cultural spaces for historically under-represented and under-served communities. Calvin Zhong is a spatial designer, fabricator, and informal cultural critic. Together, they are one-half of the design collective, Architecture Group of New York, which currently operates out of Cambridge, Chilé, and Mexico City. They work on books, exhibitions, advertisements, fashion, research, websites, and last, but not least, architecture.