Soft Civic Aims to Enhance Activity and Community

Soft Civic, a site-specific architectural installation in Columbus, Indiana created by Bryony Roberts Studio, delves into the architectural geometry of Columbus City Hall, as well as its role as the center of civic leadership in the community. Through her creation of custom structures with colorful woven surfaces, Roberts turns the public space surrounding the building’s main entrance into a place for play, performance, and participation.

These structures aim to enhance activity, and additionally will host a series of community-driven events as part of 2019 Exhibit Columbus. Soft Civic turns the building’s hard geometry into pliable structures by echoing its shapes through curved seating and platforms that connect with the building and suggest points of interest. Says Roberts, “When I approach a site, I think about the longtime cycles of that site, the way that social, political, economic forces have changed it over time, and how I’m entering into that process.”

The woven panels and steel frames of the structures explore the softness of textiles at a large scale. Made through macramé knotting nylon rope, the panels bring the textures of domestic space into the public, while the red-orange color of the rope gives a nod to the brick of City Hall. Created in collaboration with Powerhouse Arts, a textile workshop in Brooklyn, the knots represent a community effort and collective participation.

Soft Civic offers a place for lunchtime lounging, seating for performances, or political meetings, and also hosts a series of events created in partnership with community organizations. “The design is hopefully going to make the possibility of using this as a public space, either for play or for protest or for performance, more inviting and more accessible,” says Roberts.

Soft Civic will be on view as part of the 2019 Exhibit Columbus exhibition program through December 1, 2019 at Columbus City Hall at 123 Washington Street in Columbus, Indiana.

Photo courtesy Bryony Roberts Studio

Photos by Hadley Fruits.

Kelly Beall is senior editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, and enjoys sharing her finds with others. When undistracted by great art and design, she can be found making a mess in the kitchen, consuming as much information as possible, or on the couch with her three pets. Find her @designcrush on social.