Perkins and Will’s design, Tubes ‘n’ Tunnels was selected as a winning entry to be built as an immersive experience at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s 16-acre Arboretum. The design competition, named “Fortlandia,” seeks to inspire adults and children to explore outdoors with an appreciation of art and nature in a series of temporary installations along the one-mile walking path. To amplify the beauty of the natural environment, Perkins and Will’s Tubes ‘n’ Tunnels installation bridges a connection between nature and the built environment to highlight how humans view the world, framing a series of landscape vistas in a playful interactive installation. Situated amongst two majestic Live Oaks within the Arboretum, Perkins and Will’s Tubes ‘n’ Tunnels experience is formed by bamboo secured to a steel circular support, which creates a larger tube that kids can crawl through. Working collaboratively with a structural engineer and steel fabricator, the installation is designed for child play to be structurally sound, safe, resilient to weather, and durable. Undulating walls support the bamboo tubes so that they appear suspended in space, and the varied heights from the ground encourage exploration as children weave their way through the fort. The four bamboo tubes vary in scale, and slots are placed at strategic locations to allow for access into the fort. The tubes create a dialogue with the Live Oak trees as well as the walking path that traverses through the trees and installation. Inspiring playful interaction and prodding the imagination, Tubes ‘n’ Tunnels promotes sustainability through the use of products such as locally-sourced bamboo and recycling the bamboo and steel with the closing of the installation.
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