“We didn’t win the Creative City competition. But we’re coming up with other ways of realizing LakeForms. Thank you so much for your interest and support!”
Full proposal here.
LakeForms is a dynamic interactive public pavilion that invites residents and visitors into the Convention Center plaza, where they can relax, explore and learn about Minneapolis’s urban lakes. The pavilion is a digitally enhanced scale model of the lakes’ underwater topography. Their individual topographies are inverted and joined together to create a single sweeping, curvilinear form that will be a striking and innovative architectural presence in downtown Minneapolis. Using custom-built “smart buoys” deployed in the lakes to gather data, the interior of the pavilion is transformed into an information rich environment, featuring a sound installation illustrating the lake’s ecology and seasonal use.
LakeForms responds to the site-specific and eco-focused themes of the Art in the Plaza: Creative City Challenge. By symbolically bringing the lakes into the urban core, it realizes the city’s Convention and Visitors Association’s tagline, “City by Nature.” Visitors will have a chance to physically relax upon and enter a rendition of the city’s urban lakes, which are the city’s heart. The extension of the plaza lawn up into the pavilion structure draws attention to the city’s extensive green spaces and illustrates the city’s symbiotic relationship to nature.
The pavilion’s form is derived from a scale model of the lakes’ underwater topography, and it is digitally fabricated out of marine grade plywood. The structure straddles the existing walkway leading to and from the Convention Center, preserving existing circulation patterns, and functions as a gateway portal, inviting visitors into the plaza and guiding them to their destinations. The structural ribs begin as embedded planters in the plaza surface and sweep upwards to form the pavilion enclosure. Both the interior and the exterior of the pavilion are habitable: the inside provides a shaded space to gather during hot summer days, and the exterior of the pavilion is a greened extension of the plaza’s lawn, providing a comfortable surface for seating and play. The character of the pavilion changes subtly from June to September as the vegetation grows throughout the summer months. The site-specificity of the form extends beyond its reference to Minneapolis’s lakes. It also evokes the Convention Center domes and burial mounds that are found throughout the Upper Midwest.
The interior of the pavilion offers an interactive, eco-focused, and information rich environment, comprised of a data-driven, algorithmic sound installation, which illustrates the ecology of Minneapolis’s urban lakes and their changing use over the summer season.
The data for this environment is collected by a custom-built “smart buoy,” which contains a cloud computing microcomputer powered by solar panels. The buoy will be moved between various lakes over the summer and transmit real-time data via wifi to Lakeforms, including wind-speed and direction, ambient light intensity, and water and air temperature. Audio field recordings will also be collected from the lakes’ surface and banks throughout the summer, such as the sounds of swimming and water splashing, laughter, boating noises and animal sounds.
Using the visual programming music software, Max, the data and field recordings are collaged into a sonic environment that is self-generating and data-driven, but also manually refined by the artists over the course of the installation. The data used to create the music is spatialized and mapped onto the interior and exterior of LakeForms itself, so, for example, wind traveling across the Chain of Lakes is represented as the movement of sound through the LakeForms structure. The field recordings are integrated into the sound installation as well, documenting the lake’s changing summer soundscape. Finally, given the large numbers of visitors to Minneapolis’s urban lakes over the summer, the buoy itself also serves to draw considerable attention to LakeForms in high traffic off-site locations. The installation will be a dramatic record of the lakes’ changing use and ecology over an entire summer season.