Fiber canopies proposed to turn Phoenix streets into comfortable public space

The proposal was the winning entry in a design competition asking for ways to strengthen the identity of the Arizona city.

January 10, 2017 |

Rendering courtesy of Forbes Massie

“It’s a dry heat.”

That’s what everyone always says when hearing about the intense heat of a Phoenix summer. It may be true, but 105 degrees is 105 degrees, and black asphalt streets that can be used as a frying pan in the direct desert sun are not the most hospitable of places.

A proposal from Blank Studio Design + Architecture, however, looks to make the streets of Phoenix more inviting by turning city streets into corridors where the asphalt has been replaced in favor of dense ribbons of flora, cars have been removed, and a canopy of sisal fiber provides shade from the sun, Dezeen reports. Blank Studio’s proposal won first place in the 2016 Metro Design Competition that was organized by the Phoenix chapter of AIA.

The canopies would be made up of ropes of sisal, a natural fiber that comes from the agave plant. The ropes would measure two inches in diameter and reach lengths of up to 25 feet. Each rope would be attached to an overall framework and coiled extensions would hang down to create movement in the wind like that of swaying grass. The sisal canopies would filter the sunlight, making the heat less intense and the new corridors more habitable.

Cars would not be welcome in these newly designed corridors and the streets would instead be filled with amenities such as cafes, playgrounds, and markets. Mass transit will exist as the only means of transportation within the corridors. Additionally, bioswale channels would collect and reuse rainfall and greywater from neighboring buildings would irrigate the landscape.

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