Adjacent to the outstanding LEED Platinum Center for Urban Waters in Tacoma, Washington, sits an exceptional new installation. Designed through a collaboration between artist Robert M Horner and earth builder Bly Windstorm, The Tidal Resonance Chamber is a “lab” created to study the tidal forces that have shaped the space between land and sea. Similar to the Sound Chamber we featured earlier this year, the project is inspires its users to connect the built environment with the natural in an intimate and contemplative way. Made from rammed earth walls set on a concrete foundation, the space not only introduces sustainable construction methods and materials, but it is also able to evoke the mission of the center by reinterpreting the site’s relationship to the neighboring waterway.
The design is a wonderfully restrained – a sensitive use of materials paired with an equally sensitive development of space and context heighten the value of the structure. As the first rammed earth urban structure in Washington state, The Tidal Resonance Chamber is very much a teaching tool. The earthen walls surround a small pool “filled with reclaimed curb granite fragments, river stones, clay substrate and native plantings that speak to the nature of the Puyallup River Delta and the large estuary in which the project is situated.”
The pool is connected to sensors in the tidal channel below, which activate pumps able to fill or lower the water level in relationship with the tide. Clear glass tubes, evocative of the water testing lab, demonstrate the tidal ebb and flow and provide an entry point for light to permeate the confined space.