The Umbrella Sky Project began in 2011 as a part of the city of Águeda’s famous annual Ágitagueda Art Festival in Portugal. Each year, during the hot summer months of July, August, and September, a handful of the city’s narrow streets gain colorful umbrella canopies that provide shade for the pedestrians passing through. Rooftop cables are strung with numerous parasols that help cool the roadways in a creative and cost-effective way, and the sea of umbrellas forms a unique geometric pattern overhead as well as changing shadows on the roadway below. Programming like outdoor workout classes give this shaded area an added layer of functionality, enabling high-energy and fitness activities despite high summer temperatures.

Since the project began, these pop-up shade structures have become an annual summertime installation and they have developed a cult following around the world. Creators of the Umbrella Sky Project, Sextafeira, have also launched offshoots of this work in other cities such as Lisbon, where they have added to the streetscape by stringing multicolored balloons over urban alleyways. As with all of their projects, the polka-dot shadows that shine down onto the street below add more color to people’s lives in everyday settings.


Photo credits, from left: Adam Rifkin via Flickr, Laura via Flickr, Umbrella Sky Project via Facebook

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Umbrella Sky Project was last modified: August 13th, 2015 by Annah MacKenzie