Color-Changing Rain Shelters Add Cheer To Dreary Days

Like a French version of Seattle or London, the northern city of Lille, France, has a reputation for being a gray, gloomy place. But even though rain falls for nearly half of the year, Lille also experiences more annual sunlight than is typical of most “wet” cities. In an effort to get citizens to see the brighter side of their city’s weather, designers at Italian studio Fabrica created a series of textile shelters that transform into vibrantly colored patterns when wet.

Fabrica has a taste for turning the mundane into whimsical designs, and the studio’s Water Culture project is no exception. Designed for the annual Design for Change/Lille competition, the textile structures are printed with vibrant hydro-chromatic ink that only reveals itself in rain. Printed with lovely patterns and bold colors, the shelters can become like city-wide mood enhancers while keeping Lille’s citizens dry.

The renderings show fabric stretched like a tarp to create a lean-to, printed with a bright fuschia meant to call to mind Lille’s abundance of beetroots and sugar beets. As Fabrica’s designers note in their product description, the weather-reliant structures could be used by schools, organizations or the local government to mark off a public space for community events. Beyond Lille, the color-changing ink could also be used to convey messages and instruction in emergency situations like hurricanes or flooding. Think of it like an invisible ink for rainfall advisories–and it could even be color-coded for alerts.

See more about the competition-winning design here.