For example, this proposed plan is one of four installations to create informal and social learning opportunities highlighting the Bedwell Park environment. This installation proposed a dock with fly-out net over the existing salt ponds at the South West edge of San Francisco Bay. It breaks the edge of the pond as an interpretation of the ecological phenomenon know as an ecotone, which are dynamically overlapping environmental habitats and phenomena. The diagonal decks draw from the existing path above in both directions, but don’t connect to simultaneously create a protected inlet for study and a sense of tension reminiscent of the unresolved nature of inter-dependent dynamic systems.
Four years ago, this project was my first attempt at inhabiting structure with not only Exploratorium goals of informal learning and open-ended discovery, but also our team’s goal of creating an invitation to pause and engage. All these goals directly informed the larger arc of my interactive art practice, even if it was but a “skeletal“ first pass in the world.
I designed the overall wood structure and the steel framed base. I also worked with one of our engineers to have them fabricated by an out-of-house vendor. The exhibit engineers and I worked together on the exhibit implementation.
Design - Revit, AutoCAD
Built - wood pathway, concrete and wood supports, aluminum and steel exhibits
My responsibility centered on the overall design of the pathways, their detailing, the vertical support elements and the layout of the exhibits they supported. I worked with the team to create a spacial experience with the exhibits, especially the vertical undulating chime “forest“.
I also designed the sculptural vertical elements throughout the deck. The main inspiration for these forms are the two iconic observatory domes visible in upper right image. To echo these domes while opening to the sky, I used compound curved struts reminiscent of the ribs in the existing domes. I then worked with the engineers, exhibit developers and graphic designers to integrate the experiences we developed with Chabot into these installations.
As architectural lead, I designed the overall architectural sculpture and worked closely with the engineers to integrate their chair and chime mechanisms throughout the process. As a team, we sought an interactive phenomenon that would invite people to co-create something to augment and claim the space. We settled on chimes, which can be struck by a hammer lifted by rocking back and forth on a rocker below each chime. Together or by themselves people suffuse the space with their sonic explorations.
Photos: Gayle Laird © Exploratorium