Architects: Robert Horner
Location: Tacoma, WA, USA
Photographs: Unknown photographer
From the architect. The Tidal Resonance Chamber, designed by Robert Horner is an experiment between human perception and nature; it also serves as conduit for the development of sustainable construction techniques. The Tidal Resonance Chamber provides a harbor for the contemplation and reflection on the manner in which human beings have utilized and manipulated the natural environment.
As the first rammed-earth construct in the City of Tacoma, the Chamber provides a contemplative and relaxation space for users of the Center for Urban Waters (a LEED Platinum Marine research and analysis facility) . Aimed at serving as an instrument for perceptual synchronize with the natural rhythms of Commencement Bay, the chamber’s thick insulated earthen walls buffer out the heavy industrial sounds of the surrounding Port of Tacoma, and through a series of feed back pump operations the chamber’s water level mirrors that of the Thea Foss Waterway manifesting as a ratio-reduction.
To “Resonate” brings forth the capacity to transfer between multiple energy levels and configurations. As the chamber resonates with the tidal condition of the Thea Foss it promotes the potential for users of the space to engage and “Resonate” with the greater dynamics of place, which at a time not too distant was a dynamic estuary. Reflecting upon the cultural, environmental and spiritual frequencies of place, the Tidal Resonance Chamber invites users to harmonize with the rhythms of nature and to discover the overlapping layers associated with the Delta of the Puyallup River.
The Tidal Resonance Chamber’s main interior space has a trapezoidal footprint roughly 12’ x 18’. The fortified rammed-earth walls measure 8’6” in height, and rest atop a concrete foundation that measures 4’ in height. The chamber has a maximum filling capacity of 2500 gallons, which will fill at the highest of high tides. The interior of the chamber is filled with reclaimed granite curb fragments, river stones and will eventually populate with micro-organisms, barnacles and other aquatic lifeforms.
The Rammed Earth design mix was developed using local material and colors were developed around the iron oxide patina of the port. The infill openings are occupied with water-filled pyrex glass tubing that speaks to the process of water analysis and laboratory work that occurs within the Environmental Science building. The glass tubing filters the south light and creates dramatic effects of light-displacement and distortion, as well as aids in creating an intimate and peaceful environment.