PROGRAM: Palm Tree Shade

SITE: Palm Walk


In Tempe there are two pedestrian axes: Mill Avenue and Palm Walk. Mill Avenue is successful and Palm Walk is not. Palm Walk exists as an icon of luxury styling that once attracted students, but is still the most functional path on campus. Is there a way to make the palm trees useful to the students?

Capitalize on the inherited repetition, regularity and tallness of the palms to support a new language of change. A path always reconfiguring itself to temporary demand—a Perpetual Emergent Path (PEP)

The primary axis of a desert campus without shade. Although there are several medium height buildings adjacent to the path, they only provide shade for a few hours. The student population needs a shade system that gives protection from the Arizona sun in all of it’s positions throughout the day.

The path is looked at as a people mover, forgetting the pockets of space that expand and collapse on both sides. These leftovers provide opportunities for rotating events, planned exhibitions, concerts and spontaneous gatherings. A connecting path more responsive to student life than the places it links.

Foreshadowing more growth and adapting to time, a system of parts and a new language of path that will modify its own existence and purpose with every new campus vision. Thought of as a tool more than a solution.

PROGRAMMABLE INPUTS: Time of use, seasonal data, daily use information, weather predictions, social patterning, GPS uploading, movement tracking, event planning, spontaneous happenings, formal design, online input, pedestrian densities, cell phone usage, noise sensors, shade calculation, types of pedestrian travel, energy use, open space percentages etc

The structure is powered by buried hydraulic pressure systems giving vertical movement to the layer/palm interface. The form of every layer is controlled by the palm tree structure in relation to connected cable tensions.

1 LOWER MESH: Morphing of the plane occurs via input vertically from palm structures and horizontally from cable supply systems. Plugin connectors available at intersection points for events.

2 RESPONSE BALLS: React to changes in the lower mesh. No grouping of balls will ever be static or repeatable.

3 UPPER SCREEN: Dumb as a protective lid to the loose balls, but smart as an adaptive semipermanent screen. Can be opened to the sky, closed for maximum shade, used as a screen for projection, etc.

Forces are allowed to pass through every connection at the vertical structure interface to allow tension adjustments. Vertical hydraulic pressure tubes split into two forces —one for each palm structure ring to move independently from each other.

PLUGINS: Found at every connection between perpendicular running cables, the plugin components offer options for temporary planned programs such as art galleries, booths, back splashes, small projection screens, wanted ads, etc.