Stepwell Project & Logo

Stepwell was an ambitious follow up to Rainbow Bridge that unfortunately didn’t receive a Black Rock City Honoraria. Due to the incredibly high cost for a burnable one-time sculpture, we decided to shelve the project.

Inspired by Rajasthani Stepwells I wanted to build something fun and interactive. The climbing aspect of the Rainbow Bridge was even more joy-bringing than I imagined for people and that was the starting point on the development of this project. I wanted climbing, but with a meandering path. I wanted people to be able to loiter at the apex without blocking others and with thinking about multiple apices, the idea was born.

Stepwell was designed to be mostly prefabricated offsite, with modular identical stair sections. This was my first foray into larger 3d models and through well over 100 iterations, came up with a design that fulfilled all of the design features I was looking for and an aesthetically large number of stairs and apices with an acceptable footprint. Most stepwells have a temple or gathering area on one side, while the other three are predominantly stairs. Building with an aim of forcing the eye upwards requiring a minimum of one set of stairs on each wall, the initial design was crowded and boxy, so I staggered the sidewalls to add a degree of asymmetry and placed a central door on each set of stairs at the first level, making four points of egress.

The fourth wall was removed to allow a large opening for art cars and to make the gathering space open and inviting. The “water” of the well would be lit from below with LEDs. The shape naturally becomes an amphitheater performance space. The screened windows are inspired by the keyhole recesses of the Panna Meena ka Kund stepwell which became the centerpiece of the overall design of the the doorways and the logo as well.

For interactivity, Sri and I had seen a Lightform used with Hybycozo’s installation at Patricia’s Green and were fascinated. We researched it, met with the Lightform team, and ordered our prototype. The plan was to use augmented reality projection mapping with several projectors to allow multiple users to simultaneously interact with the projections.

This logo came together rather quickly as I quickly fell in love with the staggered font Battlelines and quickly began changing sizes and rearranging until the arrangement felt like it was stairs and ascending, I added the keyhole, but the negative space was odd looking, so I added stairs. The lines between the stairs was distracting, to I filling it in. When that didn’t work I changed thickness and made it a bit irregular to visually try and balance it.