South Florida based Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe and Associates was recently awarded third place in the Miami Water Box competition for their roaming proposal. Additional images of their project in addition to a full description can be viewed after the break.
The design concept builds on the notion that a theaters success is associated to the strength and quality of the relationship between the audience and the performer. Acoustics amplify sound, lights direct visualizations but most other architectural elements or design features should become negligible once the performance begins.
The manner in which the original stadium’s elaborate and exquisite structure fades from view when one is in the audience as a spectator is a testament to this idea. Cantilevering way overhead, the Candela structure while monumental and fully expressed, falls behind the viewer once they are directing their attention to the stage. Justifiably so, considering the view from the stadium, whether or not there is a performance, is the one of the qualities that makes the stadium valuable as a “Miami Icon”. The watery landscape that extends into the bay with scattered islands and the ever-growing skyline as a backdrop gives the stadium a unique and original flavor.
The floating stage attempts to add a layer of this water vocabulary by resembling a cube of water. The intention of the cube is to evoke thoughts of the long standing tradition of man-made islands and waterways throughout the bay. The water cube, while being made of natural materials cries out its man-made origins. Through the use of gateways and dams, waterfalls provide the stage with curtains, backdrops, privacy screens and even a surface on which to project. The unique quality of water to absorb and mask sound and it’s amazing reflective and refractive qualities allow it to enhance the experience.
The construction of the water cube uses traditional steel structure and the not so traditional cladding of water. The water cladding is achieved with small reservoirs made of structural Plexiglas along the edge of the structure and laying flat across the top of the structure. These reservoirs are constantly being filled with pumps that bring water up from the bay and keeping water constantly flowing over the edge. Before the shows as the seating fills what the viewer observes is a perfect water cube that seems to be a fountain in the bay. At the times indicated, certain sides of the reservoirs will be dammed and no water will flow over that particular side leaving an opening in the water cube. Just as a traditional curtain in a theater opens revealing the stage setting, the wall or curtain of water parts and recedes to expose the stage setting and the performers.
These can all be coordinated and choreographed to enhance the performance just like any other curtain made of traditional materials. The outer edge of the “elevated pond” has a substantially deeper reservoir that creates an inner pocket of space for lighting and stage equipment to be placed in. As in the traditional theater, the source of lights and effects can be hidden above the performers using the pocket between the reservoirs. The effects of light moving through the pond water and onto the performers can also be manipulated by placing opaque plastic sheets at the bottom of the reservoir and blocking the light where desired.
At times when the box is not being used as a stage, it could wander throughout the bay area providing an Icon for Miami as a water sculpture. When power is not available, solar panel sheets can be placed at the bottom of the elevated pond and the pumps could be powered using renewable energy making the water box a sustainable sculpture.