Waterfront Vancouver will soon be bringing tens of thousands of people to the bank of the Columbia River. Imagine a light sculpture on Hayden Island that engages and entertains people on both sides of the river. That’s what this proposal is about.

Hayden Island’s northern 20 foot high river bank is filled with huge boulders and is not accessible by the public. But imagine a large scale interactive light sculpture near the water line. People on both sides of the river could interact with it. LED lights would be draped over a series of 12 foot poles.

The goal is engagement and cooperation. It could be seen (and controlled) from both Washington and Oregon. It would bring a smile to people and provide useful information by color coding.


This light sculpture might include the following features:

1. Interactive. Using inexpensive light controllers, such as the $30 TP Link, people on either side of the river could control the lights using their own voice. Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home control the lights.

2. Organic. These sculptures would only be visible at night. They would form images of common themes such as clouds, sun, the river, fish or birds.

The theme on the waterfront could be repeated in a land-based sculpture. It could provide proximity lighting in the pedestrian tunnel or shelter in the Jantzen Beach Mall.

3. Useful. The sculpture can be programmed to indicate weather (clouds or sun) as well as current conditions for fishing or traffic.

Hayden Island Benefits:
The light strings would effectively create a “fence”, discouraging people from climbing upon the riprap. The light sculpture would barely be seen by Hayden Island residents, although they could view it when near the river bank edge.

The waterproof LEDs would be draped over a series of 12 ft poles, near the waterline. It could extend some 50-100 feet, near the river’s edge.

Some people will be vehemently opposed to the project. Finding a property or home owner willing to host the sculpture may be the least of the challenges. Approval by organizations like the Dept of State Lands, Corps of Engineers, Police and Fire, and others would be necessary. Funding would be another issue.

Other examples:

With the right concept and approach, an interactive light sculpture along the river bank could be an appealing feature. What do you think?

– Sam Churchill