Tidewalk

Tidewalk will be an emergency structure from a possible future, created in the present. Publicly accessible raised walkways will be built to cross stretches of open water that would exist if projected sea level scenarios were to occur. These walkways will give participants a new perspective on familiar parts of the city and become platforms for events and discussion.

Sea level rise scenarios combined with river flooding could see large parts of London inundated in the future, even with the current Thames barrier in place. The more central areas of London, to the south of the river are amongst most vulnerable. In some projections, water could inundate the lowest lying areas, creating temporary islands and peninsulas separated by shallow running reaches of water.

This project aims to envision what fast, emergency measures would need be created to allow people to continue to move about in the future; and build them in the present day city.

The proposal is to build temporary sections of raised walkway, as if the future flood scenario had already arrived. These walkways would be open and accessible, allowing people to walk along them.

Tidewalk takes inspiration from the type of raised walkway currently used in Venice during Acqua Alta which allow people to continue to move about the city in flood.

Drawing on the materials and construction techniques used on current disaster relief infrastructure, Tidewalk will be easily put together and quickly demountable using inexpensive, easily sourced materials.

One or more wider landing stages/jetties would be incorporated that would also act as gathering spaces. Tidewalk might also become a platform or forum for other artists’ interventions, music, food, events, talks etc.

In this R&D phase, the project will be experienced as an evolving ‘story’ through the website, blogs, social media, talks etc. As a completed project, the aim is to prompt the audience to imaginatively experience the effects of sea level rise in the heart of the modern city by interacting with a structure that physically lifts them up to a level that only currently exists only as abstract data.

The jetties that form part of Tidewalk might be experienced as ‘points of departure’ literally (in the imagined future where boats arrive and depart in this flooded landscape) and metaphorically, prompting and providing a forum for ongoing discussion.

Aside from this core message, participants will also have other experiences: for example, they will gain different perspectives and vistas of the urban landscapes that the walkway passes through. And it may even allow participants to walk through and over places that are currently inaccessible.

Visitors to Tidewalk might also experience works by other artists along, or as part of the walkway, watch a film projected on to an adjacent building, participate in a workshop or eat food grown on land Tidewalk crosses.