pARC was designed through a series of participatory design workshops to serve as an open-ended programmable extension to the conversations, performances, lectures, and other programming that currently exists within the doors of the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, NC. The spatial installation becomes a transformative communal platform that allows the museum to better connect with the surrounding community. The space is transformed into a landmark of communal activity, activating a once underutilized space and inviting people into the museum who might have never been aware or felt comfortable entering.
pARC’s design both mimics and challenges the Georgian-style architecture of the museum. It adopts the symmetrical composition and breaks it into a series of interconnected arcs. These arcs grow up from the ground to frame out various social spaces that allow the users to put their own identity onto the work, the museum, and the surrounding space. The space consists of two stages or seating areas and a multitude of other open-ended social opportunities. It becomes an open-ended space evoking endless ways to play, gather, perform, teach, converse, or even nap.
The installation responds to the user and environment through the manipulation of light both during the day and at night as a tool to evoke moments of joy and wonder in the space. As visitors pass the work, they realize their movement changes the colors of the panels creating different filtered views. At night the panels are backlit by red, yellow, and blue LEDs, sparking shadow play, a playful array of different colored silhouettes as people move through the space. pARC provides an opportunity for the user to put their identity onto the work, museum, and surrounding space. Through utilizing various play methodologies, the design begins to break down social barriers and democratize the public/private terrace of the museum.