Sea Change celebrates North Vancouver’s connection to the waterfront by marking the location of the historic tideline and by serving as a symbolical reminder of the importance of water to humanity. The artwork mimics the ephemeral and magical feeling of being immersed within a body of water, as if light was penetrating an undersea world through water ripples above the tunnel. This watery effect is created using a series of LED lights mounted near the wall to aim at textured mirrored panels that reflect light patterns back onto the surfaces and walkway of the tunnel. When the tunnel is unoccupied the artwork creates a gentle shifting light effect, however when a pedestrian or cyclist enters the underpass, a dynamic ripple is triggered across the wall in front of them.

The challenge began with finding solutions for the dark and menacing underpass, with challenges of a harsh exterior environment with adjacency to well-travelled roadways, small public budget, and need for durable solutions. In addition, there were limitations to the available mounting positions and solutions needed to address the limited maintenance plan available, durability to failures, vibration or small roadway debris. The innovative solution was to find standard equipment and materials and utilize them in a unique way while activating the space.

The team explored reflecting light on of various materials as a gentle reference to the organic refraction of light through water. This was achieved by light reflecting off of bumpy and textured stainless steel mirror, illuminating the adjacent wall and spilling into the ceiling above in curved wave-like patterns. Exterior colour changing luminaires were selected, with a multi-diode array, to allow for additional texture in the effects. Occupancy sensors trigger individual ripples of colours for pedestrians and cyclists, while scenes sit in a lower energy use ‘resting state’ during less active times.


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