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Boston architects Höweler + Yoon completed a unique shade structure and seating to a pocket park in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

Shadow Play, a powder-coated steel structure is composed of clusters of geometric modules that are thin but structurally rigid. The clusters – held up by vertical supports – block the intense daytime sun and create ever-changing shadows on the concrete pavers below. Open sections within the roof structure allow air flow and further enhance dramatic shadow play.

The firm conducted initial studies using folded origami paper. "Eventually we did structural optimization studies to figure out a cost-effective way to span between supports and still give us the porous canopy that we were looking for," said Höweler. Photovoltaic panels are mounted to the top of the canopy, with each module oriented to capture sunlight. Power generated by the solar panels is stored in batteries and used at night to illuminate the structure.

The firm designed metal benches utilizing the same basic geometry as the parasols. Trees and landscaping have also been added to the publicly funded park, which was inaugurated in July 2013 during a ceremony attended by city officials and community leaders. The small, triangular park is bordered by streets in the Roosevelt Row Arts District, an area undergoing a construction boom, and will allow the public respite from the heat. The project is part of a larger improvement scheme intended to beautify the district and make it safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

Article and images courtesy of Howeler + Yoon Architects