Waiting for the River

[Image: "Waiting for the River" by Observatorium].

Waiting for the River is a 125-foot-long inhabitable bridge, complete with dormitories, outdoor eating areas, and a bathroom, built by Dutch art group Observatorium back in 2010. The project was constructed in anticipation of the newly cleaned and renaturalized Emscher River, whose waters will soon flow through the surrounding landscape.

[Image: "Waiting for the River" by Observatorium].

As the artists themselves describe it: "In ten years time the river Emscher—now a sewer canal between dikes—will be a natural river again... Observatorium symbolizes the anticipation of better times and a better environment by building a covered bridge for a river that is not there yet. We invite people to wait 24 hours."

[Image: "Waiting for the River" by Observatorium].

As the Art & Architecture Journal Press puts it, the project, made from reclaimed timbers, "sits over the waste land that will be the site of pastoral landscape in ten years time."

You could thus book a small bed in the dormitory and fall asleep, in anticipation of a future landscape to come.

[Image: "Waiting for the River" by Observatorium].

It's a kind of temporally inverted High Line: a popular sight-seeing infrastructure constructed in advance of the very thing it's meant to help the public see.

[Image: "Waiting for the River" by Observatorium].

It is the preparation of the landscape that becomes the spectacle, an otherwise unremarkable spread of fields and small thickets suddenly taking on a sign of impending—but still strangely unpredictable—transformation. Something is meant to happen here, some kind of terrestrial event; the structure exists because of this predicted shift in the earth.

But where exactly the braided meanderings of this future river will go—one that has yet to flow through, and thus format, the landscape—seems too difficult to anticipate. So this piece of architecture simply waits there, straddling what it presumes to be the currents of a future riverbed, its anticipatory landscape tourists fast asleep inside.

[Image: "Waiting for the River" by Observatorium].

The Observatorium's Andre Dekker will actually be speaking later today—Saturday, 18 June, at 4:30pm—at the Los Angeles Design Festival; hopefully he'll present a bit more about this project.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Gardener in the Distance said...

A wonderful notion ( from within a wonderful building ), that you can anticipate the renewal of natural forces, when for so much of our development, natural forces have been subsumed and marginalised.

June 18, 2011 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Rakshya said...

Very inspiring!

June 20, 2011 9:55 AM  
Blogger Joe Trainor said...

Brilliant foresight, creative planning, and a truly cool series of structures!!! Bring back Eden baby!

Peace from Toronto,

Joe Trainor, Editor
21st Century Architecture Blog

June 20, 2011 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Brian Romans said...

"But where exactly the braided meanderings of this future river will go—one that has yet to flow through, and thus format, the landscape—seems too difficult to anticipate."

It seems that the scientists and engineers working on the reclamation of the river would have some predictive models of the river's future behavior. Such models will not precisely predict every parcel of water, but would (hopefully) give a sense of height, velocity, and sediment concentration at different flood stages, for example.

I assume they designed this structure that high for some reason ... right?

June 21, 2011 11:52 AM  

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