Tacoma's new public artwork gives the river a voice
Rammed earth meets river-tide in Tacoma, WA's beautiful new Tidal Resonance Chamber, an experimental pavilion for sound conceived by artist-architect Robert Horner. Constructed using sustainable materials and methods, the structure provides a contemplative, tactile and sensory space for experiencing the rhythms and cycles of the river as it filters urban noise out -- while at the same time, filling and emptying itself of the river's ever-changing flows.
According to the artist, the chamber is a "harbor for the contemplation and reflection on the manner in which human beings have utilized and manipulated the natural environment" -- specifically, the adjacent Thea Foss Waterway.
"The 'Chamber' is a frame or window into the condition of Commencement Bay prior to the industrial era," Horner was quoted as saying in Tacoma's News Tribune. "It's a contemplative, relaxation space that invites questions."
Equipped with sensors that monitor and regular water levels and dynamic pump programs, the chamber literally "resonates" with the "ratio-reduction" of riverine ebb and flows, allowing visitors to fully engage with a larger contextual sense of 'place'.
A visible reminder of the river
Though rammed earth may seem out of place here, it is the first rammed-earth structure for the port city of Tacoma that nevertheless effectively interlinks 'place', history, ecology and science. For instance, at high tide, the 2,500 gallon chamber completely fills with river water. It's also located beside the Center for Urban Waters, a marine research facility.
Built with local earth that's coloured with iron oxide and filled with reclaimed granite curb fragments and river stones, the peaceful interior of this lovely project is designed to gradually fill with barnacles and other water-loving organisms -- a visible reminder of the health and life of the Thea Foss.
But it's not just the water that's given tribute -- light is also manipulated through the glass tubing that lines the south wall, in effect, creating a space that plays with light and sound, allowing visitors to intimately encounter the river on its own terms.
"People need to realign themselves with natural rhythms like the tides and the planets," says Horner. "Before we can change bigger issues like climate change we have to change our attitude, (and realize that) we're part of the system. It's changing, and so are we."
Read more on the artist's website.
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