Mind the Tide
Proposal for an adaptable architectural gallery on the River Thames, developed for a 2008 competition sponsored by Arquitectum and the Architecture Association.
Team: Derek Hoeferlin (co-lead), Patty Heyda (co-lead), John Kleinschmidt, Jennifer Ramirez, Pearson Smith, Andy Sternad
A constellation of over 100 mutable galleries floats in a network on the River Thames, participating and communicating in the temporality of the river, the city, the exhibition.
Tidal extremes of the River Thames determine malleable configurations of the galleries. Below Teddington Lock, the Thames cycles through 4 tidal dynamics in a 24 hour period, sometimes with vertical change in excess of 6 meters. As a result, the galleries actively compress (from 9 cubic meters) or expand (to 25 cubic meters) throughout the day and night, depending on the rising or falling cycle of the tide. The galleries are connected at their tops to an overhead network of ultra-thin cables. The cable connection holds the top of each gallery at a fixed horizontal datum. When the tide is falling, the bottom of the gallery literally drops away from its top, so that the skin and structure uncoil and unfold correspondingly. The operation compresses as the tide rises, and so forth.
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By day, the galleries offer changing perceptions of the city from within. Observation of the city is enhanced, framed, or distorted, depending on the position of the form –the configuration of the flexible skin- at any given moment.
By night, the galleries glow like fireflies, creating a field of lights that dramatically change the river’s surface. From the air or the shore, the river is a glowing event- reflecting, exaggerating, and adding luminescence to the city.
Art is viewed in a much more intimate, individual setting, with the city and river as backdrop. Each gallery unit contains areas for standing, benches for lounging, and a place for a Pimm’s Cup or a pint. Digital displays show feeds from floating galleries to on-shore galleries and London points of interest (and vice versa), offering a novel and simultaneous perception of the city and its art. ‘Gallery’ becomes a much more flexible concept, both permanent and temporary, existing as a network of spaces and medias that can function discreetly from one another, or in an entirely coordinated way, private or public.
The additional gallery amenities – restrooms, cafés, maintenance and storage areas – are treated as strategic insertions along the shore. Long, linear floating arms extend perpendicular into the water between existing artifacts along the shore. Locations are also spaced along both shores to align with the existing attractions. Floating gallery units dock along and around the bars. The bars correspond formally –and are positioned underneath- the vertical infrastructure that holds the cable network, but they are not physically tied to it.