Carousel for Companionship

Interactive Installation

2023 — Built

Architectural Design, Creative Placemaking

The Carousel for Companionship is a creative placemaking project in downtown Columbus, Indiana. The project includes a rotating platform that is manually operated by community members to facilitate public programming, performances, and play. The platform’s shapely profiles, sampled and abstracted from the geometry of the city’s iconic architecture, operate in visual tandem with supergraphic murals that activate the existing exterior wall and ground surfaces of an under-utilized lot located behind the city’s main commercial thoroughfare. The graphics sync into and out of optical alignment with the carousel as it spins in place or as visitors circulate around it. One-part public art, one-part play structure, and one-part open-air stage, the platform and graphics collectively create an animated social infrastructure and public space that engages with the adjacent streetscape.

When programmed as a stage, the rotating platform offers the flexibility for performers to reorient themselves outwards toward a festival crowd along 4th Street or inwards toward a more intimate audience within the wall-flanked plaza. During un-programmed times, the carousel provides an active platform for physical engagement and visual play. Taken together, the carousel, supergraphics, and performances offer a locomotive landscape that celebrates the power of shape, color, character, and sound to generate a public platform by design.

Design Team: Joseph Altshuler & Zack Morrison with Amir Zarei
Fabrication: Ignition Arts; Andrea Jablonski
Street furniture: Driftwood Builders
Photography: Brian Griffin; Handley Fruits
Commissioned by: Landmark Columbus Foundation
Support: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - College of Fine and Applied Arts; Illinois School of Architecture - Ding Faculty Award; Columbus Museum of Art and Design
Special Thanks: Columbus Area Arts Council; Let's Grow Garden Club; Ovation Technology Group