Project Information:

Project Description:

Fortress is a large-scale immersive installation art project that reintroduces the idea of play as a social activity and offers opportunities for participants to be creatively empowered and engaged in the context of a fantastical interactive landscape. Referencing a nexus of imaginative play from childhood, the blanket fort, Fortress magnifies the scale over several thousand square feet offering individually themed installation rooms, connected by winding tunnels made out of sheets. Within each room is a unique wonderland, a window into an individual imaginative fantasy.. a stroll through a glowing forest, a lavish arabian lounge, a translucent cave equipped with a controllable light display, etc. If there were a backdoor to each of the individual forts of our childhoods that led to a realm of our collective imagination, that is the space we endeavor to bring to life. Fortress literally connects the individual creative visions of many artists together into one epic explorable fort of wonder.

A primary goal of the project is to encourage creative-empowerment and collaboration through the medium of play. We hope to do this by bringing together a variety of artists to design and build the installation and by creating a space that incorporates the audience as active players in the environment. The installations will be designed to be interactive and games and puzzles will be hidden within the body of the installation to be discovered or solved by participants. Fortress is designed to be a social experience and will be therefore be exhibited in the context of a large-scale event. The Fortress event will be held over the course of several days and will be staffed with musicians, vendors, body painters, and other entertainment. Fortress will be open to adults and children, though potentially on different dates.

Construction & Design: (Please also see the blueprint and photos of prototype models)

The current design for the Fortress installation consists of four installation rooms varying in size from 7′ by 7′ to 10′ by 30′ and 130 feet of tunnels running between and around the installation rooms. The tunnel frames will be created out of 3/4″ PVC pipe and will be sectioned into modules, each 5′ wide by 6′ long and of varying heights between 6′ and 4′. Most of the tunnel modules will be covered in sheets or blankets that are secured to the PVC frame and will simply act as passageways but some tunnel modules will also host installations and will be covered by other materials, ie- silk flowers, chip board, paper mache, etc.

The construction materials of the installation rooms will vary depending on the design. In the current design two spaces are constructed of PVC pipe, another of milkjugs and another of paper mache.


Excluding a few variable costs, such as the cost of a venue, our budget calculations have estimated the expenses of the project at around $6500 – $7000. Around $1500 of this will go toward building the frame for the  entire installation, ie- PVC, PVC connectors and hardware for 2000+ sq ft of tunnels and installation rooms. The rest will go toward the cost of lighting, fabric, paint, materials specific to each installation and potentially toward a budget for essential staffing of the event and entertainment.

At the moment we are operating on the ‘If you build it, they will come’ model and funding construction out of pocket to get the project off the ground. We are working on several grant applications and plan to initiate a crowd-funding campaign within the next couple of months.

We will be starting a Kickstarter or Indegogo online crowd-funding campaign within the next couple of months with a goal of raising around $1,500. Information on that will be shared on our website and facebook pages. In addition we will be reapplying for a Seed Award from the Sprout Fund we will also apply to the Awesome Pittsburgh Foundation which gives monthly $1000 awards to fund ‘awesome’ ideas in Pittsburgh as well as to ‘Soup N’at’, an in-person crowd-funding platform to support local art.

We would certainly welcome other funding ideas or any assistance from anyone with a background or experience in arts entrepreneurship or arts philanthropy.

Estimated Participation:  

  • We estimate attendance at the event to be 600 people over 3 days of programming

  • We estimate the project team, artists, volunteers, co-sponsors/partner organization contacts, photographers, etc to total around 50 additional people

  • We estimate our total participation at 650 people


  • When project planning began –  2012

  • When project activities began – October 2013

  • Proposed Exhibition Date – Summer 2014 (exact dates TBD)

Get Involved:

We designed Fortress to be a project that involves the community not only as the audience for the finished installation but also in the creation process. We can use help of all kinds, especially people who have an interest in building things or have a desire to learn building skills and artists who want to take ownership of a portion of the installation and bring their creative vision to life within Fortress. We’re also looking for organizations that may want to partner with the project, anyone with marketing or fundraising skills and of course community members who want to support the project financially, at any level.

Join the design & construction working group – www.facebook.com/groups/FortressParty

Contact Us – fortresspgh@gmail.com

Follow and ‘Like’ the project – www.facebook.com/fortresspgh

Project Activities: (For more pictures of our recent activities and details on upcoming events, please visit http://www.facebook.com/fortresspgh)

We have just finished a month long artists residency at the Assemble gallery on Penn Ave. We installed several hundred square feet of our installation in the gallery for the entire month of October and hosted a number of events throughout the month including, parties, workshops and community fun nights (like movie night in the fort). Our workshops included led circuit building and arduino programming. Both of these techniques will be used in the portion of the installation we are currently building, a milk jug igloo with a programmable light display.


We are currently submitting our project for consideration at the next Soup ‘Nat funding drive on November 10th. If we are selected to compete we can certainly use your support at the event: http://soupnat.wordpress.com/
We will be hosting a meeting of interested artists and collaborators in mid- November to make construction plans for the next few months and plan our next exhibition, tentatively scheduled for February. We will also be hosting a milk jug igloo building workshop at Assemble in early December where participants can help construct the igloo and work on creating programs for the LED light display.


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