CLEMSON — Event-goers at this year’s Moogfest in Asheville, N.C., will see clouds in the air — five, to be precise — no matter what the weather proves to be.

That is because 17 Clemson University architecture students have been given the task of creating an engaging community space for the five-day festival that begins April 23: an outdoor location for attendees and the community-at-large to gather, rest, relax and recharge — both themselves and, if needed, their cell phones.

This rendering shows the Patch designed by Clemson architecture students.

This rendering shows the Patch designed by Clemson architecture students.

What the students have come up with is a take on the “cloud” concept. But instead of their “cloud” being a place to store one’s technology, Clemson’s cloud will be a place for those to interact in a relaxed setting. And what better way to design it than by having it all under actual clouds?

“We are creating five inflatable ‘clouds’ that are a physical expression of the digital information cloud concept,” said student Sarah Davis of Chattanooga, Tenn. “Basically, the canopy consists of pixelated clouds that will be suspended by cords. And beneath the clouds, we’re creating a real-life ‘cloud network.’ People will come to interact, charge their phones and take pictures with graphic backdrops that we have designed for posting on Instagram and Facebook. We envision a place where people can interact in person as well as through virtual methods.”

The project, named “Patch,” is inspired by the event’s namesake, Bob Moog, who was known for creating innovative ways of “patching” sound waves together with a synthesizer. Thus, within every aspect of their design, Clemson’s students aim to patch individual people, ideas and places together to create a unified, collective entity. This connectivity appears within each of the four layers of the project: groundscape, cloudscape, userscape and mediascape.

“We knew from the initial stages that we wanted to provide festival-goers and locals with a sheltered space, so we designed the project in a series of layers,” said fellow architecture student Haley Fitzpatrick of Batavia, Ohio. “These layers contain interactive elements, such as custom stools and charging stations that encourage connection between users. This design concept intuitively got us thinking of the sky and the clouds as a layer within the project. We also drew inspiration from the city of Asheville and its surrounding environments, such as the low-lying clouds around the mountains. What we’ve come up with is pretty intriguing.”

What they have come up with also is pretty unique.

Five suspended 20- by 30-foot clouds will appear to be floating over a 16,000-square-foot area. Each cloud will be suspended by 5,000 feet of parachute cord and will anchor to nine mobile mini-storage containers. The clouds themselves are 8,000 square feet of inflated Tyvek breathable fabric canopies and weigh a total of only three pounds. Underneath the clouds will be five fixed-plywood charging stations and an interactive virtual game where visitors can upload images to Instagram to try and win a ticket to an exclusive Moog concert.

Eighteen four- by 10-foot vinyl super graphics will cover the sides of the nine storage containers, which also will be used as place-making objects. Visitors will be able to rest on 125 custom-made plywood pixel stools. It all will situated on 2,500 square feet of grey Astroturf surface treatment to provide a designated space for the gathering.  The pixelation of the clouds, stools, Astroturf and super-graphics is reminiscent of the so-called 8-bit era of the mid-1980s video games and the patch concept of merging many individual, unique pixels together to make an overall image.

The project was created, produced and is being built by a group of 21- to 25-year-old undergraduate and graduate students, utilizing the state-of-the-art technology in the School of Architecture’s Digital Design Shop.

They include Courtnay Bourque of Myrtle Beach; Austin Diehl of Newburgh, Ind.; Vanesa Ewais of Jacksonville, Fla.; Andrew Galloway of Bonners Ferry, Idaho; Lauren Gryder of Winston-Salem, N.C.; Marcus Hebron of Mauldin; Tim Keesee of Greenville;  Josh Mace of Lake Wiley; Edgar Mozo of Greenville; Andrew Musulin of Hilton Head; Shane Smith of Charleston; Michael Strople of Charleston; Nick Tafel of Columbia; Daniel Taylor of Sharon, S.C.; and Ian Zapata of Spartanburg.

“For us, this is just what it will be like when we get into the workforce,” Mozo said. “You have a client and you have to meet their deadlines and you need to get materials… this is real. We’re in production right now on something big. We’re not just working on a class project, but we’re working on something for a client. It’s almost like we’re working on a real project. Well, it is a real project.”

“For the students, it’s basically Real World 101,” professor Doug Hecker added. “As the instructor, I just put some questions out there, but the students have come up with all the concepts. They make mistakes, as I have made, and we’ve gone back and forth, back and forth, back and forth on quite a few things until we were ready to pull the trigger on the concept, just like in the real world. It has been a great experience for them.”

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Moogfest
Moogfest is a five-day festival dedicated to the synthesis of technology, art, science and music. Since its inception in 2004, Moogfest has been a magnet for artists, engineers and enthusiasts of Robert Moog and his legacy to meet, share, create and collaborate. With an experimental lineup of daytime conference programming featuring cultural, artistic and technological luminaries and punctuated by a lineup of diverse landmark nightly performances, Moogfest honors the creativity and inventiveness of Bob Moog and pays tribute to the legacy of the analog synthesizer.  For more information, visit www.moogfest.com.

Clemson University
Ranked No. 21 among national public universities, Clemson University is a major, land-grant, science- and engineering-oriented research university that maintains a strong commitment to teaching and student success. Clemson is an inclusive, student-centered community characterized by high academic standards, a culture of collaboration, school spirit and a competitive drive to excel.