Giant flowers that bloom when you walk past them might seem like something out of a fairy tale, but in Jerusalem, they’re real! Installed in 2015 as part of a project to improve the city’s Valero Square, they are bringing a lot of joy, light, and shade to the citizens who live there. (1)
Giant Flowers Bloom When You Walk By
They say one of the easiest ways to brighten up a room is to add flowers. Jerusalem decided to take this approach when trying to brighten up the city’s Valero Square. In 2015, architecture firm HQ Architects installed what they called the Warde project – giant red flower sculptures in the square center. These just aren’t any flowers, however, these flowers bloom when people or trains go by.
The project consists of six 9-meter high by 9-meter wide inflatable flowers. The goal was to improve this space of the city, which was otherwise two urban spaces divided by a tram line. Facilities such as waste composters and an electricity sub-station made up the landscape.
“warde’s attempt was not to fight the chaos but instead to try and lighten up the urban space, by spreading around these four elements that have a hint of fantasy, and with their help, overcome the reality of the square.” the architects said. (2)
How The Flowers Work
The flowers bloom whenever people or trains go by. They are equipped with motion detectors that instruct the flowers to inflate when there are pedestrians present. They do this by injecting the flowers with air. When no one or no trains are around, they deflate just in the same way flowers close up when there is no sun.
The flowers are positioned so that they can be seen from all around the square, including the nearby market. Each one acts separately and will inflate on its own if someone is near it. More than just an interesting art piece, however, these flowers serve a purpose. On the hot, sunny days that act as umbrellas protecting pedestrians from the sun. If it is raining, they act like umbrellas. The flowers are equipped with light, so at nighttime they illuminate the square, making it safer for everyone.
Not The First Giant Flowers
Jerusalem was not the first city to install giant, interactive flowers in a public city space. In 2013 in Seattle, Washington, The Pacific Science Center and the City Light’s Green Up Program commissioned the project, Sonic Bloom. These giant metal flowers are located at the foot of the city’s famous landmark, The Space Needle. (3)
These flowers don’t bloom, however, they sing. Each one is equipped with a sensor and its unique set of harmonic notes meant to mimic a chorus. When pedestrians walk by, the flowers sing to them.
There are five flowers, each 20’ in diameter and up to 40’ tall. They are made of steel, fiberglass, custom voltaic cells, LEDs, sensors, an interactive sound system, and an energy data monitoring system. The goal of this project was to create an interactive educational art piece that would extend the Science Center’s educational reach beyond its physical building. If you’ve got a group of at least five people, you can actually together create a simple, harmonic piece of music.
The flowers themselves are pretty interesting, even just to look at. With bright lights and multi-colored stems, they look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. It’s a fun piece to play around with both at nighttime and during the day.
Immersive Art Around The World
More and more artists and creatives are thinking of ways to make art more interesting and interactive. Not only does this bring art to life for the people viewing it, but it also brings together artists, scientists, the tech industry, and so many other fields to create these experiences. Itching to dive right into some amazing art exhibitions and installations? These are some of the best interactive art experiences around the world (4):
- AREA 15, Las Vegas
- House of Eternal Return, Santa Fe
- Superblue, Miami
- Seismique, Houston
- teamLab, Tokyo
- Atelier de Lumieres, Paris
- Artechouse, Miami
- Wisdome LA, Los Angeles
- Otherworld, Columbus
- Immersive Van Gogh, Toronto
- Frida Immersiva, Mexico City
These are just a few examples of many of the amazing art experiences around the world. Do some research and see what you can find within driving distance of your hometown. You’ll be surprised at how much is out there!
- “Jerusalem’s Flower-Like Streetlights Bloom When You Approach.” Bloomberg. John Metcalfe. October 27, 2015.
- “HQ architects installs giant flowers that react to passersby in jerusalem.” Design Boom
- “Sonic Bloom.” Dan Corson.
- “The world’s top 11 immersive art experiences.” Bloo Loop. Bea Mitchell. July 13, 2021.