The Art of Infrastructure

THE TERM INFRASTRUCTURE is rarely associated with objects of beauty or cutting-edge creativity. Rather, it suggests a certain bureaucratic blandness, abstractly removed from that which we care about or relate to. Infrastructure can inspire  —  the Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges come to mind  —  but more often than not, it is associated with aging freeway overpasses built to federal specifications and power lines tearing long, unnaturally straight swaths across the land. It comprises the sorts of things we give little or no thought to  —  such as underground pipes that deliver water or whisk it away  —  because it’s essentially invisible.

In recent years, a new cohort of creative minds has begun to actively address what may well be our nation’s next generation of infrastructure  —  an infrastructure that demands innovative, local solutions, but also engages an artist’s eye for detail and encourages community involvement by elevating the human experience. The following projects challenge the maxim that infrastructure must be dull, distant, and often invisible, proving instead that it can be increasingly inventive and scaled to sizes that a community can appreciate. These projects represent small steps toward addressing our nation’s aging infrastructure, but they also help set a higher bar for how we think about it in an increasingly finite world.

Find more from Orion’s new series, Reimagining
Infrastructure, at www.orionmagazine.org/infrastructure.

Comments

  1. Wonderful slideshow! Thank you for posting these interesting and admirable projects.

    Many of these ‘ecological artists’ and landscape designers have toiled away for decades. But we need more models of aesthetic green infrastructure.

    Hopefully they’ll get some attention as we enter an age of climatic disruptions, water shortages, and (thankfully) also greater ecological awareness.

  2. Thank you for the beautiful photos of these admirable projects. This is exactly what we need more of. Much more. We could look at every parkinglot, building, walkway, etc as an opportunity for eco-artistry!

  3. Thank you, Orion people, for publishing these projects. Many more no doubt exist and the more these are made visible the better we live and breathe.

    Thank you, Water, for our very being.

  4. Yes, indeed, David Givers (an auspicious name!), let’s give thanks to sacred Water.

  5. Art and infrastructure. Who’da’ thunk? While reuse and relocalize, from closed big box stores to elevated rail lines will be the only way to go in a “Peak Oil” economy with lower embedded costs, I hope our designers, engineers and architects can look our really long term. Where will sea levels be? in infrastructure be ‘soft’ rather than ‘hard’, non fossil fuel based and easy to maintain. This is what the best and brightest need to focus on. And government needs to be on the cutting edge and embrace this in reusefrastructure, artfrastructure, etc. We will not be able to afford the concrete and steel in the very near future.

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