HYDROSHADE is a prototype of a tensile structure designed to collect rainwater and solar energy while protecting resident groups and the general public against sun and rain in community gardens in New York, which are traditionally off-grid public land uses maintained by volunteers. The aim is to educate the community about sustainability by displaying data of the collected rainwater and solar energy while providing water and electricity necessary for gardening uses.

The structure consists of hyperbolic modular sails made from heavy duty knitted shade fabric. A circle of 20’ in diameter determines maximum possible the enclosed and covered area. Proposed for the prototype is a half circle structure of 10’x20’. Each sail module has a side length of 10’, covering an area of 100 S.F. and collecting 50 gallon of rainwater. The sail modules are pitched towards the center post, where the water is collected with a scupper and guided to a rainwater tank. A knit polyethylene Photovoltaic solar triangle tent manufactured in conjunction with the structural engineering firm Pvilion is attached on top of one of the sails for solar energy collection.

The design of the HYDROSHADE as a tensile fabric structure corresponds to the seasonality of gardening in New York City’s community gardens: Modular hyperbolically tensioned sails are pulled up during the growing season between May to October, and will be taken down during the Winter months. The sails are adjustable in height and location providing for shade and protecting against rain and collecting solar energy and rainwater while displaying the individuality of the gardening group through the changes in the location of the sails.


The site targeted as the first location for installation is GrowNYC’s Governor’s Island Teaching Garden. There the HYDROSHADE will be installed as a prototype structure that will make efficient use of materials, that is easily maintained and adjusted according to the users’ needs and weather demands. The structure can be replicated in community gardens throughout the city to provide the necessary infrastructure for community gardening purposes and the education needed for a sustainable future urban environment.

 Thank you very much for your support of the HYDROSHADE structure!





Share the love

Project Initiator:

256Carolin Mees
Architect and Project Team Leader @ mees architecture

Carolin Mees is an architect, writer and educator living in New York City. She has been responsible for the design of community-based urban projects such as an affordable garden structure kit for GreenThumb, New York City’s community garden program and an aqua-ponic container farm currently installed in Far Rockaway, Queens. Ms. Mees has a PhD in Architecture and a Master of Arts in Architecture, both from the Berlin University of Arts. She is teaching at Parsons The New School of Design.