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Launch Festival 2013 architects hint at sustainable structures

Corrugated cardboard is set to be the star material used yet again in the architectural design portion of the Launch Festival 2013, which begins Wednesday, Sept. 4, in front of the MARRS Building headed by architect Jason Silva and a handful of creative minds. However, this time Silva promises to push the multi-functional, three-dimensional installations to larger sizes and oh yes, towering heights.

“The architecture pavilion this year will … rise up above the ground to provide shade and varied spaces for people to gather,” Silva hints. “Seating is part of the pavilion and other special installations will be shown. The final design is not public, (but) information will be released at the upcoming events at the Fab Lab in the Downtown Plaza mall.”

Silva is also the founder of SacDigiFab, a collection of architects and designers with a common interest in the vast capabilities of digital fabrication. In this art form, 3-D computer models are used to transform a mere idea into a full-sized, physical and purposeful structure. Last year’s installation sent festival enthusiasts into a twisting, shrinking cardboard tunnel almost a full block long. It was reminiscent of the “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” scene where Wonka guides his tour down the dwindling hallway, ending at a teeny door.

All installations featured this year are designed with the contributions of many hands, like those of student architects from Cosumnes River College, Ginger Rhodes and Daniel Christman-Jensen, while landscape architects Allegra Bukojemsky and Keith Wilson lent a creative eye in the ways of site planning and design. Every piece of each installation, attached mostly with simple white glue, will be erected by architects and dozens of volunteers at the MARRS Building on the day of the block party. After the evening’s fun is over, the structures will be reassembled and put on display at Cesar Chavez Park on Sept. 7-8. Stop by the Fab Lab (Space No. 1067 near 7th St.) to lend a hand and sign up to be a part of the puzzle.

All materials used for the installations originate from recycled sources and are donated to the architectural cause by American River Packaging, who re-utilizes all unused cardboard by combining it with food waste and tossing it into their anaerobic digester that ultimately converts the matter into methane gas, which runs through a turbine to create electricity used to power the plant. When the intricate structures are finally dismantled at the end of Launch, the pieces are then donated to Sol Collective (2574 21st St.), where the art space and venue uses it for weed abatement in their garden and for craft projects. Silva enjoys working with a material that is not only sustainable, but possesses an overall life cycle with environmental benefits.

“I want to draw attention to this project to bring more people out to experience it. To me, architecture is about the space between structure. People occupy the space between and do not benefit from just looking at something,” Silva said. “Corrugated cardboard has been the material of choice due to its durability, structural strength and ease of fabrication … the design potential is almost unlimited.”

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